TOPIC: COST EFFICIENCY
The Art of Investing in the Right Place
Guests' expectations of comfort and quality are constantly rising, and investments in ropeways and snowmaking infrastructure are substantial. How can savings be achieved? How can tight budgets be used efficiently? Salzmann Ingenieure successfully achieved this delicate balance with the Glungezer ropeway, located southeast of Innsbruck. Similarly, at the Jöchle ropeway in the Silvretta Montafon ski resort, cost savings were made possible through the implementation of an artificial grip. These are two examples of strategic and targeted investments.
A twenty-minute drive from Innsbruck brings you to Tulfes, where the Glungezer ropeway is located. This destination is ideal for day trips, skiing in winter, and hiking in summer. However, even the best location becomes irrelevant if the ropeways are outdated. In 2017, the Tyrolean daily newspaper described the situation as "retro and somewhat romantic, but unprofitable."
At that time, the Glungezer I double chairlift was exactly 50 years old. On weekends, skiers had to wait in line for half an hour. From the middle station, skiers continued their journey on the Glungezer II T-bar ropeway, which was also half a century old and took 15 minutes to reach the top. During the summer, it operated as a single-chairlift. The other five ropeways had been in operation for over three decades.
The ropeway company had changed ownership multiple times, and closure seemed imminent. In 2010, the municipality of Tulfes and the Hall-Wattens Tourism Association took over the company for a symbolic one euro.
During the approval process, the decision was made to renovate the ropeway. Only the gable roof of the top station was removed, allowing the WC facilities and the snow groomer workshop to remain in use. The ropeway technology was kept as simple as possible, and the buildings were constructed using cost-effective wooden materials. The employees of Glungezerbahnen contributed over 13,000 hours of their own work to reduce costs.
A comprehensive study was conducted by Salzmann Ingenieure to determine the best course of action. The result indicated that the renovation would yield positive returns. The planning office proposed replacing the old Glungezer I and II ropeways with a continuous ropeway featuring a mid-station, thus making the area attractive for year-round activities, particularly for families.
High investment costs presented a challenge. The surrounding communities were unable to afford the investment. Thus, a lengthy discussion process ensued. Planner Stephan Salzmann recalls, "We scaled down the project and scrutinized every euro meticulously." Walter Höllwarth, the managing director of Glungezerbahnen, understood the owners' reluctance to inject public funds into a struggling company. He acknowledged, "For the planning team, it certainly wasn't an easy task."
Finally, in 2017, all the municipalities agreed to a phased plan with a reduced budget of 16.5 million euros, which was five million euros below the initial estimate. The municipalities contributed a grant of 3.7 million euros. Instead of a continuous ropeway, the plan focused on renovating the first section in 2018, followed by the construction of the snowmaking system in the subsequent year. The new construction of Glungezer II was scheduled for 2020 or 2021, depending on the financial situation.
Stringent Cost-Saving Measures
The renovation of the Glungezer I feeder ropeway as the initial project was completed with a budget of 7 million euros, which was also one million euros below the initial estimate. A thorough analysis of the details highlights the arduous efforts made to achieve cost savings: even the old ticket office and the WC facilities, which had been in use for decades, were repurposed and retained at the bottom station.
Additionally, a collective endeavor was undertaken to ensure that postponed tasks could be appropriately addressed. Planner Stephan Salzmann's conclusion aptly summarizes the approach: "Although not ideal, it was a practical solution."
Significant Quality Enhancement
Since Christmas 2018, the new 10-passenger ropeway has been operational, facilitating transportation from Tulfes to the mid-station. The ropeway's capacity has increased by 50%, effectively eliminating long waiting times. Travel time has also been halved. The spacious cabins are well-suited for accommodating skiing groups, particularly children. Furthermore, during the summer season, the ropeway enables the transport of strollers, wheelchairs, and bicycles for the first time. Salzmann's team diligently adhered to the allocated budget.
Even in its inaugural year, the results exceeded expectations. Höllwarth expresses great satisfaction, stating, "We have achieved a level of turnover that we wouldn't have dared to envision." Consequently, the municipalities have already granted approval for the construction of the second section of the ropeway. By 2021 at the latest, the existing 53-year-old ropeway will be replaced with a modern combined ropeway featuring 10-seater cabins and 6-seater chairs.
- Antriebsleistung Betrieb
- 426 kW Final expansion
- Anzahl Stützen
- 10-cabin monocable ropeway
- July - December 2018
- 6 m/s
- Fahrstrecke gesamt
- 1846 m
- 960 P/h
- Höhe Talstation
- 948 m
- Anzahl Fahrzeuge
- 34 Final expansion
- Höhe Bergstation
- 1.565 m