Aditya Chamaria, MD Damodar Ropeways and Infra (DRIL), tells us why
India embarked on the passenger ropeway journey in the 1960s with Darjeeling ropeway running from North point to Singla Bazaar and single-person ropeway in Bihar’s Rajgir that runs at the top of Ratnagiri Hill to Vishwa Shanti Stupa. Since then, the passenger ropeway industry has expanded, and ropeways have come up at numerous other tourism and religious locations, especially in hilly terrains. Not only in numbers, but the ropeways have also evolved from being single chairlifts to various safer developments such as monocable and bi-cable jig back ropeway, pulsating monocable ropeway, detachable monocable, and bicable ropeways.
With a good safety record, this mode of transport has always been enjoyed by people for giving a safe and pleasant travelling experience. Developing a ropeway is a challenging and intricate task as it requires working in all sorts of terrains. However, seasoned Indian players, such as Damodar Ropeways and Infra (DRIL) with over four decades of experience, have a proven track record of constructing strong and long-lasting ropeways. Constructed using the latest technologies and materials, the ropeways in India meet all quality standards set up by the authorities and are at par with the Global standards.
The process to erect safe, strong, and technologically sound ropeways starts with studying topography. The inspection includes activities like surveying and producing a graphical representation of the terrain. While doing so, every single hitch is taken into consideration, and an action plan is implemented; this is the most crucial step to ensure the utmost safety of the passengers who decide to take a ride in it.
Reference points are fixed at various spots to ensure perfect excavation and concrete work. For large-scale excavations, heavy-duty excavators are used, and for inaccessible areas, walking excavators are used. The usage of the device is determined by the quality of land on which it has to be used. Apart from structural safety, rope assembly is also a critical part of building a secure ropeway. Building a secure ropeway requires more than just building a trolley or lift system and reliable ropes. It is equally important to check that all these systems are in place on a day-to-day basis.
The location’s temperature also plays a crucial role in planning the design and construction of a ropeway. High altitude regions with low air density and high heat transfer capacity, and low temperature slow down the hydration process of cement, affecting the strength and durability of concrete. At such locations, the yield and tensile strength of the metals also get affected. Thus, a call on the material and design is taken after considering the area’s temperature. Materials like Grade-C carbon steel E 350, as per IS 2062-2011, high-grade cement- OP53, and special lubricants help counter the ill effects of the temperature. In addition to this, hot water is used while concerting, condensation drain holes and heaters are used, and rating requirements for electrical equipment, cables & otor, are checked.
Apart from ensuring structural safety, it is crucial to have an emergency system in place to get the cable car back to the nearest station in case of an emergency, safe evacuation can be done. For instance, in some ropeways, a secondary line goes out with a cabin which has an open top. Here, the passengers can be moved in and out of the cabin using the open top. In some systems, there is an emergency chair that gets lifted and the person needs to shift in that chair. The kind of safety system installed depends on the nature and requirements of the ropeway. Multiple safety systems can also be installed to ensure maximum safety. The duration of evacuation depends on the length of the ropeway, number of cabins and number of passengers riding in it. It is mandatory for all the ropeways to have some or the other safety system installed based on the requirement of the ropeway for complete safety of the passengers.
Making and running a ropeway comes with plenty of technical challenges, a full 360-degree perspective is required to execute the project. With extensive research and advancements in Indian technologies, Made-in-India ropeways come at par with the world standards of safety. For many, ropeway rides are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it is the builders’ responsibility to ensure their journey is safe, secure, and convenient.