Europe's highest cablecar station
From November 2018, a new cableway of superlatives is operating all-year round, carrying up to 2'000 passengers per hour to Matterhorn glacier paradise (Klein Matterhorn). The Matterhorn glacier ride, the world’s highest 3S cableway, connects Trockener Steg with Matterhorn glacier paradise station at 3'883 metres. With the existing Matterhorn Express cable car and the new 3S (three-cable system) cableway passengers will reach Europe’s highest mountain station from Zermatt (1'608 metres) more quickly and in greater comfort than ever.
On 23 December 1979, the first enthusiastic passengers were carried towards the summit of the Matterhorn glacier paradise. They rode in one of the two 100-seat cabins of the cableway that is still in service to this day. Since then many thousands of people have visited the icy world of Matterhorn glacier paradise. In 2017 alone, over 425'000 passengers were recorded, mainly from Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain. In other words, about 20% of the tourists who visited Zermatt (registering a total of around 2 million overnight stays) did not want to pass up the opportunity of an excursion to Matterhorn glacier paradise, proving that along with Gornergrat, Matterhorn glacier paradise is an extremely popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
To do justice to the popularity of the high-alpine destination, a new and very impressive cableway was opened in November 2018: the Matterhorn glacier ride. Since 2016, Zermatt Bergbahnen had been working intensively on completion of this unique project, which continues an impressive series of innovations introduced by Zermatt to enhance its tourist attractions. It makes Matterhorn glacier paradise an even more attractive destination, not only for skiers and mountaineers but also for tourists who simply want to enjoy the fantastic panorama from the highest mountain in Europe accessible by cableway.
60 million Swiss francs, 38 companies, 145 people
Just what a gigantic project this had been is underlined by the cost of the construction work, which adds up to around 60 million Swiss francs. With a carrying capacity of 2'000 passengers an hour, the new Matterhorn glacier ride complements the existing cable car, which continues carrying 600 passengers an hour to the Matterhorn glacier paradise. The dual connection also ensures cableway services all year round, even during maintenance work and in windy conditions. The three-year construction project has involved such companies as LEITNER ropeways and PININFARINA, the design studio renowned for its work for Ferrari and Maserati. Overall, some 154 people have taken part in the project.
Comfort and capacity thanks to the three-cable system of the gondola lift
3S stands for three cables and is a cableway system with large cabins which combines the advantages of a gondola cable car ride with a single-cable, circulating ropeway. Unlike conventional cableways, which transport cabins on a single cable, the 3S system has separate hauling and support cables. There are two support cables for each side, anchored at the valley and mountain stations and responsible for maintaining the stability of the cabins during operation. The hauling cable, on the other hand, forms a closed loop. The 25 cabins, each with 28 seats, are attached to the cables with connecting clips. The support cables offer greater wind stability, passenger capacity and driving speed. The first 3S system was built in Saas Fee in 1991 by the von Roll company.
Leading-edge technology meets crystalline design
The new cabins of the Matterhorn glacier ride represent a highpoint in the successful partnership between LEITNER ropeways and PININFARINA. The interior features 28 spacious seats inspired by car design and is finished with high-quality materials such as leather and Alcantara. The innovative LED lighting and a ventilation system with adjustable air flow ensure maximum comfort during the nine-minute journey so visitors can relax and enjoy the magnificent views from the all-round panorama windows.
The two new stations are as modern and crystalline as the cabins of the Matterhorn glacier ride. The mountain station in particular is constructed as a light glass body and has an angular, crystalline form reminiscent of a block of rock, with sharp edges softened by the forces of nature, blending perfectly with the mountain panorama.
The vision: Alpine crossing
In addition to the cableway that brings visitors to Matterhorn glacier paradise since autumn 2018 onwards another new lift from the Testa Grigia border station (I/CH) is planned to enter service in the winter of 2021. This would create the highest Alpine crossing point of all, establishing a direct year-round cableway link between northern Italy and Zermatt over the Klein Matterhorn. The construction of a further cableway link between the Ayas valley in Italy and Valtournenche/Cervinia would connect the three ski resorts of Zermatt, Cervinia/Valtournenche and Monte Rosa. Linking the three resorts would create one of the largest continuous skiing areas in the world, with over 600 kilometres of slopes.