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It is just under 4,467 meters long and climbs 1,945 meters in altitude: We're talking about the Zugspitze cable car. The superlative lift has been taking mountain lovers to the summit since 2017. Up to 580 people per hour can climb Germany's highest mountain in comfort. To ensure that they all get up there safely, ropeway technicians regularly check the aerial tramway during the so-called inspection. For the first time, one of the two trolleys of the Zugspitze aerial tramway has now been replaced. To ensure that the aerial tramway is quickly ready for operation again despite the change, there is always a third replacement trolley.
The drives of the Zugspitze cable car are each located above the cabin. It may come as a surprise that one of these enormous devices is replaced after just five years. But: "This is a completely normal procedure, like the TÜV for a car," explains Martin Hurm, operations manager for the Zugspitze ropeways and lifts. Actually, he and his team only have to replace the almost five-ton trolleys of the cable car to the Zugspitze every six years, but due to the current closure, the work was brought forward. This meant that the technicians did not have to work under pressure: "We had enough time to do everything in peace. We were also able to explain everything in detail to our trainees. An exchange like this doesn't happen every day."
A special chain hoist was even installed for the changeover during the construction of the new bottom station. This lifts the trolley of the Zugspitze ropeway from the rope after the employees have released the clamping heads. Meanwhile, the 4.4-ton cab is attached to another chain hoist. To ensure that the aerial tramway is immediately ready for use again, the previous replacement trolley is then first installed. The technicians disassemble the removed trolley into its individual parts until the next replacement: They clean each piece thoroughly and check it for signs of wear or other damage. The so-called clamping head is the heart of the unit: as a traction rope connection, it connects the rope to the drive. The overhauled trolley must be approved for use by an expert from Seilbahn Zugspitze. Then the trolley can be used again during the next changeover. Now the two cabins are just waiting to take their passengers back up the mountain and down into the valley.