On 2 September 2012 the operation of the legendary Von ROLL cableway to Sněžka was terminated. As unlikely as it sounds, the cableway had operated for more than 63 years and become the oldest operated cableway in our country. It rightly ranked among the most famous and frequented cableways in the Czech Republic. It was manufactured by Transporta Chrudim under the license of the Swiss company Von Roll.
Operation of the first section leading to Růžová hora began with the opening ceremony on 15 January 1949. It awakened a great interest of the public and, within the first year, the cableway carried 112,200 people up and 82,291 people down. In the meantime, finishing works were being done on the second, longer section from Růžová hora to the top of Sněžka. On 10 November 1949, a trial run was commenced and, since 1 July 1950, the second section had been in permanent operation. Originally, continuous run without changing at the intermediate station Růžová hora was taken into account, where chairs between both sections would be manually shifted along a rail, although in the end, it was decided that both sections will be permanently run separately (one of the reasons was, besides other things, a different type of chairs on each of the sections).
The slope length of the first section was 1560 meters at an elevation of 464 m; the second section reached a length of 1967 m and an elevation of 240 meters. The route of the first section was led through 19 pylons (4 of which are pressure pylons), on the second section there were 23 pylons (of which 6 are pressure pylons). All pylons (except no. 1 of the first section, which is made of steel profiles) were designed as lattice structures of open profiles. The 23 mm diameter wire rope was a Warrington construction of 78 wires. Transport capacity of 250 persons per hour was ensured with 44 seats on the first section and with 55 seats on the second section. Freight cabins were also available. The cableway was operated up to a maximum wind speed of 15 m/s (54 km/h). The ride from Pec pod Sněžkou to Sněžka took about 25 minutes at a speed of 2.5 m/s. The drives of both sections were located in the Růžová hora intermediate station, their output was 75 kW for the first and 55 kW for the second section. Both in the Pec pod Sněžkou and Sněžka stations, a tensioning weight was placed, which hung on a tension rope of a diameter of 40 mm, a Seal construction of 440 wires. The Růžová hora station also housed a depot of seats, a maintenance workshop, a spare parts warehouse, a transformer station, and a 160 kW spare power source, which was able to ensure full cableway operation even in the event of a total power failure.
From the beginning the cableway had been run by the Czechoslovak state-owned railways and later by the Czech railways (České dráhy a.s).
The operation of the cableway, particularly its second section, is affected by strong wind very often. Nearly half of days in a year, the second section is partly out of order for that reason. Wind mostly affects the final part of the cableway under the upper station where the cableway leads quite above the edge of Obří důl (Giant Valley). On the top of Sněžka, wind often gusts up to 150 km/hour (42 m/s).
As early as 1970s, there were first signs of insufficient transport capacity of the cableway, as there were often up to four-hour queues at the bottom station in Pec during sunny summer days. The highest number of tourists ever came here in 1972 and 1973 when more than 250,000 travellers were transported in each of the years. The total number of persons the cableway has transported to Sněžka since 1949 up to now is more than 7 million.
The producer estimated the life span of the cableway technology at 17 years. The fact that the cableway to Sněžka was in operation virtually in its original state for 63 years is almost unbelievable.
It was the reason why construction of a completely new, modern cableway had been considered since 1976. The then study reckoned to build a two-cable system with four-seat cable cars of Transporta. At the end of 1980s, several further studies were worked out and an offer of the Austrian company Girak was considered. The offer reckoned to build modern six-seat or eight-seat cable cars and to expand the first section of the cableway to Lesovna chalet.
In 1997, the cableway, as well as other three cableways of Czech railways (Černá hora, Komáří Vížka and Javorový vrch), was privatized. Pec pod Sněžkou and Malá Úpa Municipalities became the new owners on July 1, 1997; in 1999 both municipalities came to an agreement and the town of Pec pod Sněžkou became the single owner of the cableway. A joint-stock company Lanová dráha Sněžka, a.s. was established to run the cableway.
In the same year the service provider launched preparatory works heading towards the construction of the new cableway. A study was worked out which included a completely new route of the first section as well as relocation of the bottom station closer to the town centre. In the first section a detachable four-seat chairlift of a length of 1,628 metres to Růžohorky along with a 1,964-metre long downhill skiing course back to Pec were planned. The tender for delivery of the first section was won by the company Leitner. From Růžohorky to Sněžka a cableway with four-seat cable cars of a length of 2,971 metres and with an automatic angle station at Růžová hora (in the location of the current station) was planned and should have diverted the route by 8-10° in the direction of the contemporary second section. Nevertheless, this option was not accepted by environment protection authorities that conditioned the construction of a new ski centre in Růžohorky by preserving the original second section only "for its lifetime period". The construction of the new cableway was thus postponed again.
Only during the next years, an agreement with the environment protection authorities was reached and the option of the cableway reconstruction in its original route from Pec to Sněžka as well as the relocation of the bottom station towards the Lesovna chalet was chosen. This time, a compromise of many conditions was made and the environment protection authorities finally agreed. After long 30 years, preparation for reconstruction could be finally commenced.
The technology of single-cable, circulating cable car with three stations was chosen for both sections. After consideration of all construction conditions, a decision to build a cableway with four-seat cable cars was made. The main point of the compromise was that the transport capacity of the new cableway would not exceed the capacity of the current cableway, i.e. 250 persons per hour.
The construction of the new cableway to Sněžka was commenced on September 1, 2011. The operation of the original cableway in the section leading to Sněžka was closed on May 13, 2012 and, since then, only the section from Pec to Růžová hora was in operation. Transport of tourists was fully terminated on Sunday, September 2, 2012.
The opening ceremony of the new cableway from Pec pod Sněžkou to Růžová hora took place on 21 December 2013 and to Sněžka on 22 February 2014.
The cableway follows its original route, only the lower station in Pec pod Sněžkou was relocated lower to the Lesovna chalet. The construction of the cableway was carried out by the company BAK stavební společnost, a.s., Trutnov together with the technology supplier LEITNER a.s. from Italy. The investor of the construction and the owner of the cableway is the town of Pec pod Sněžkou. It is operated by the joint-stock company Lanová dráha Sněžka, a.s., in which the sole shareholder is also the town of Pec pod Sněžkou.
Type: VON ROll, typ VR 101
Producer: Transporta Chrudim (in the licence of Von Roll)
Sort: a two-section circulating passenger one-cable aerial tramway with detachable two-seater chairs and three boarding stations.
Spatial specification - elevation of the stations
Pec p.Sněžkou: 890 m.a.s.l.
Růžová hora (interchange): 1354 m.a.s.l.
Pec p.Sn. - Růžová hora
Růžová hora - Sněžka
In operation since:
|1560 m||1967 m|
|464 m||240 m|
|31,20 %||12,86 %|
|Drive position:||Růžová hora station||Růžová hora station|
|Stretching system:||by means of weight at the station Pec p.Sn.||by means of weight at the station Sněžka|
|Mass of the weight:||5,3 tons||12 tons|
|Main drive power:||75 kW||55 kW|
|Max. transport speed:||2,5 m/s||2,5 m/s|
|Ride time:||10,5 min||13,2 min|
|Transport cable diameter:||23 mm||23 mm|
|Transport cable type:||six-strand Warrington 6 x K13W-SFC 1570 B Zz|
|Stretching cable diameter:||40 mm||40 mm|
|Stretching cable type:||six-strand Seal 330 wires, XP winding, ČSN 02 4346.45|
|Time interval of chairs:||28,8 s||28,8 s|
|Chairs distance:||72 m||72 m|
|Number of seats:||44||55|
|Number of supports:||19||23|
|Transport capacity:||250 persons/hour||250 persons/hour|
|Note: since the operation was launched, it was used:|
|Transport cables:||26 pieces||28 pieces|
|Stretching cables:||10 pieces||9 pieces|
|Of these cables, by the end of 1959, the cable in the lower section was replaced 9 times and the one in the upper section 7 times.|