France’s Longest Urban Cable Car Opens, 86 Years Late

There are lots of engineering projects that have been delayed by Covid-19 but one in Toulouse in southwest France, delayed for more than 80 years by the outbreak of war and then by the pandemic, finally opened this month.

It is France’s longest cable car and it’s called the Téléo, and surprisingly, it’s not in the Alps but links both sides of the Garonne river in France’s fourth largest city, Toulouse, in southern France.

It was a man called Albert Bedouce who first proposed the scheme in 1936—he was Minister of Public Works under Prime Minister Léon Blum. However, when World War Two began, the city had to drop its plans.

A cable car is a good choice of transport across the city—the area is protected to conserve its natural beauty, which limits how much the existing, and heavily congested roads can be expanded. Plus, there’s more than 100 metres of difference in altitude from one side to the other.

It’s the first time that France has used a cable car to aid congested urban areas and the gondolas are expected to transport 8,000 passengers per day with one cabin arriving every 90 seconds during rush hour.

Now Toulouse joins major cities such as New York (Roosevelt Island Tramway), Barcelona (Montjuïc) and Rio de Janeiro (Bondinho do Pão de Açúcar) in using cable cars to transport city dwellers and tourists across town.

It is 3 kilometres long (nearly 2 miles) connecting the major university and hospital with the city centre and its cabins were designed by Paolo Pininfarina, the designer of Porsche and Maserati.

However, this cable car is positively a baby in comparison to others. France is also home to the Aiguille du Midi, the cable car with the highest vertical ascent in the world starting in Chamonix and heading up the side of Mont Blanc massif.

The world’s fastest mono cable car, as reported by CNN, is the Genting Highlands in Malaysia, whilst the Tianmen Shan cable car in China is one of the world’s longest at nearly 7.5 kilometres (almost 5 miles).

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