Aerial lifts are a means of transportation above the ground via cables, carrying anything from open ski lift chairs to large enclosed cabins carrying multiple passengers. They are often a fast and scenic alternative to travelling to and from higher elevations, or across large deep expanses like over valleys or even the sea (connecting a mainland and an island for instance). Examples from the Philippines’ neighbors include gondola lifts in Hong Kong (Lantau), Singapore (Sentosa) and Malaysia (Genting Highlands). But there is an even bigger cable transport system being planned far to the north, one that will connect two countries across a wide river that serves as a natural boundary.
CNN has it that companies in Russia and China are gearing up to construct a cross-border cable car system connecting their two nations in a fast and scenic way. They will be working on architectural plans drafted by UNStudio from the Netherlands, which include a grand cable terminal to be sited on the Russian city of Blagoveshchengsk in the Amur Oblast, on one side of the Amur River. The cable line will ferry large passenger cabins across the river to China, terminating on the city of Heihe in Heilongjiang province.
The proposed cable cars for the Blagoveshchengsk-Heihe cable car line will be spacious and capable of loading 60 passengers plus their luggage. There will be enough cabins on the system to ensure that one will depart every 15 minutes. An estimate of the total travel time on the system on either direction is anywhere from seven minutes and 30 seconds to a full eight minutes, but the trip itself across the Amur will only be three and a half minutes long. Still, that would afford passengers a great bird’s eye view of the river, called the Heilong Jiang in Chinese.
According to UNStudio founder and head architect Ben van Berkel, the Blagoveshchengsk-Heihe line is ambitious in its pioneering goal to be the first cable car system to connect two countries and cultures. “Cable car systems provide a new form of public transport that is sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient,” remarks van Berkel. “Although primarily a pragmatic solution, cable cars are also a very congenial way to travel as they enable us to see and experience our cities in a whole new way.” This concept is also to be implemented, he says, in the cable terminals, with the Blagoveshchengsk complex featuring restaurants, a sky garden, and an elevated viewing platform overlooking the Amur River and Heihe on the other side.
Strelka KB, a Russian consulting firm, has management oversight on the project, which will begin construction of the terminals, cable line, and passenger cabins by next year. UNStudio is still finalizing and adding to the initial designs for the system.
Image courtesy of Dezeen