Freiburg (dpa) - Günter Voigt is the first passenger in the morning. An hour before the cable car opens, he climbs into one of the 37 cabins and sets off. He is responsible for the safety of the Schauinslandbahn in the Black Forest.
This is not an ordinary cable car. It is the oldest cable car in the world and the longest in Germany. It went into operation 90 years ago, on July 17, 1930. The railway does not belong to the old iron. As a nationally known excursion and tourist attraction, it attracts guests.
Cable car connects Freiburg with the Schauinsland mountain
"It's a workplace with a view," says Voigt and looks out of the gondola. The cable car in Germany's highest low mountain range connects the city of Freiburg with its local mountain, the 1284-meter-high Schauinsland. Voigt (59) is the technical manager. Every morning, he and his colleagues check the ropes and the wheels and rollers over which the ropes run. In addition there are masts, the up to 37 meter high supports and all the rest of the technology. Except for modernizations, it dates from 1930. "And today it is as reliable and safe as it was back then," says Voigt, who has been working at Bahn since the early 1980s: "It runs like clockwork."
With a length of 3.6 kilometers and a height difference of 746 meters, the Schauinslandbahn is the record holder. Back then, 90 years ago, it was a world first. While gondolas go up and back on a rope at other cable cars, ropes and gondolas on the Schauinsland were the first to be guided around the world in a circuit. This is still true today and has proven itself, says Voigt, as he commutes between the valley and mountain stations. The advantage: Because the cabins do their laps without a long break, passengers hardly have to wait at the stations and can start driving immediately after boarding. Up to 700 people can be transported in each direction every hour. There is also enough space for bicycles.
Year-round attraction in the Black Forest
In 15 to 20 minutes, at up to four meters per second, the passengers float electrically, almost silently and with the best view of Freiburg, the Rhine plains and the Black Forest from the valley station to the summit of the Schauinsland, one of the most popular excursion destinations in the Black Forest. While other cable cars - for example in ski areas - are primarily used for transportation, the Schauinsland cable car itself has become an attraction over the years. Tourists and locals come to hover. In addition, the cable car, which is in operation all year round, is an attraction for cable car fans and technology enthusiasts.
"We have had increasing passenger numbers for years, especially since our major modernization seven years ago," said the two board members of Freiburger Verkehrs AG, Stephan Bartosch and Oliver Benz. Last year the train counted 365,000 passengers. Ten years ago, when she turned 80, there were 210,000 passengers. 70 percent of passengers come from early May to late October.
A piece of local history
"The Schauinslandbahn has become a piece of local history over the decades, it is a living monument," says Voigt. It was opened after only 14 months of construction. The idea was born 37 years earlier, in 1893. At a time when the car was not yet a mass product, it was supposed to connect Freiburg and the Rhine Plain with the Black Forest and thus drive the economic development of the region. Since the start, the cable car has been run by the city. It did not become the engine of economic growth. With the boom in the automobile, it quickly became a major competitor. Today it is a listed building. And serves the leisure and tourist traffic in a booming holiday region.
For the first five decades, there was a conductor in every cabin who sold tickets and kept an eye on the technology. This has been history since 1987, when the railway was completely rebuilt. The 15 employees today work at the mountain and valley stations. And make daily inspection trips to check the technology.
60 times less CO2 than a car
In ecologically oriented Freiburg, the Schauinslandbahn scores with its environmental balance, says Mayor Martin Horn (independent). According to the operators, it emits 60 times less CO2 when driving than a car on the same route.
Because of Corona the train had to take a break of six weeks. Now it is running again. "Vacation on the doorstep is booming," said Bartosch and Benz. The railways could benefit from this. Construction work is also underway on the mountain for a new visitor and viewing platform.
The Schauinslandbahn runs daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from July to September until 6 p.m.
The prices: ascent and descent 13 euros, one way 9.50 euros. Children (6-14 years) pay 8.50 or 6.50 euros.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200713-99-769792 / 2
Mountains of the Schauinsland
Information about the tourist area Schauinsland
Freiburger Verkehrs AG