Ropeways are a major tourist attraction in most hill stations. Be it gliding over a beautiful valley in Shimla or above the lush green tea gardens in Darjeeling, ropeways have only been a tourist experience. But what if they were to become an alternate mode of urban transportation? Conveyor & Ropeway Services Pvt. Ltd. (CRSPL), a Kolkata-based company, is doing exactly that: building ropeways in the city to sweep you up and over the stubborn traffic.
"About 90% of the ropeways around the world are for tourist purposes and linear in nature, which is a deterrent in its operation as an urban commute, because it can't take turns. To overcome this, CRSPL has invented Curvo, the only non-linear ropeway in the world that is capable of turning 300, 600 or even as much as 900," says Rachana Mukherjee, Director at CRSPL.
The prototype was inaugurated last year and is being used by CRSPL staff within the premises of the organisation. For public use (which is presently under the government's consideration) the company has proposed two stretches of about three to four km in Kolkata; from Sealdah to B.B.D. Bagh and another one from Howrah Station to New Secretariat. The stations will be placed every 700 m and it will take about 15 minutes to complete both these stretches. About 100 ropeway cars will operate one way with 10 passengers in each car. CRSPL claims that they will be able to carry around 2,500 passengers in an hour. "The whole system will be automated and under CCTV surveillance. It will be like travelling in a comfortable, limited capacity bus that will ensure there is no shoving and pushing," says Mukherjee.
The stations will be placed every 700 m and it will take about 15 minutes to complete both these stretches. About 100 ropeway cars will operate one way with 10 passengers in each car. CRSPL claims that they will be able to carry around 2,500 passengers in an hour.
In an urban context, ropeways have more benefits still. This is a green transportation system with no emissions. "Lung related disorders and emission-related asthmas are on the rise. With an eco-friendly means of transport, we hope to curtail pollution to some extent," Mukherjee says. Another standard problem in metropolitan cities is space. Around 10,000 cars are being added every month to roads that cannot expand at the same pace (or at all, very often).
Besides the fact that one would be travelling over arterial roads in a smooth manner, the ropeways infrastructure also occupies very little road space with minimal civil work. "There will be trestles that will occupy only about 1m x 1m area, that too on the footpath. The entire structure will be in the air, including the stations," explains Mukherjee.
The ropeway will also be more economical. "It is much cheaper; say about 1/10th of the cost of the Metro. This is because the latter involves a lot of construction," says Mukherjee. And the biggest advantage is that the construction will not obstruct the usual course of traffic and life. Everything will be manufactured in the factory and will be simply installed on the site; a process that will be done quickly and quietly.
The company is in talks with other cities like Bangalore and Varanasi, where ropeways can prove to be very effective. "Varanasi, for instance, is an old city with no scope of constructing any other form of transportation, which is why ropeways can be a viable option," says Mukherjee.
The proposition is presently under government scrutiny. The construction will begin once all the necessary clearances are in place.