Last week, on Thursday, July 20, 2023 at 10:55 a.m., the second section of the Glacier 3000 cable car in Switzerland came to an unexpected stop. The second section links the intermediate station at Cabane to the top station of the Scex Rouge at the Glacier 3000 ski resort near Les Diablerets, Switzerland.
The 270 tourists inside the cable car were evacuated by helicopter in a 90 minute rescue mission. Specialists from ABB Group and the company Frey AG arrived in the afternoon. The breakdown was rapidly identified: and inverter, which was installed in the electrical cabinet, and which links the transformer to the cable car engine, was defective. The part was replaced during the night of July 20, and the cable car was ready to open to the public the next morning.
Unfortunately the next morning, on Friday, July 21 at 8:50 am, the same breakdown occurred on the new inverter. The management of Glacier 3000 therefore decided to close the cable car to the public, and take the time to assess the situation. The data from the computer analysis carried out was shared over the weekend with ABB’s Helsinki-based Research and Development center, which in turn sent a specialized technician on site to support his Swiss colleagues. Indeed, the inverters are developed at ABB’s Finnish subsidiary.
According to an official statement by Bernhard Tschannen, Glacier 3000‘s CEO, the Glacier 3000 cable car was built in 1999 and the electromechanical part of the cable car was completely renovated in 2018 at a cost of CHF 1.7 million (USD 1.95 million). The problem is not related to the cable car’s infrastructure such as cables, cabins and pylons. The issue is entirely related to an electrical cabinet in the converter used to regulate speed and recover energy generated when the cable car breaks.
Tschannen is at a loss, “To date, the numerous tests carried out have systematically reproduced the same fault. The origin of the problem remains, unknown and all avenues are currently being explored. Some 20 people both on site and remotely are involved in identifying the cause of the incident.”
Unfortunately this means that the cable car Glacier 3000 will remain closed to the public until further notice. Tschannen is hopeful that the problem can be identified and fixed soon.
The resort Glacier 3000 is 20 minutes from the famous ski resort Gstaad, and 40 minutes from Monetreux. The resort is owned by Gstaad local Marcel Bach and the billionaires Bernie Ecclestone and Jean-Claude Mimran. The billionaire trio bought Glacier 3000 in 2005 and successfully turned a bankrupt ski area into a year-round mountain playground. The group invested heavily into the infrastructure, adding many attractions, like a peak-to-peak suspension bridge, an ice cave, tobogganing, and dog sledding. Through these measures, they managed to give the resort a much-needed boost and extended the resort’s season to year-round operations.