Peak Performance on the Zugspitze: The Seilbahn Project

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  • The Zugspitze mountain panorama

    Top of Germany

    The new cableway to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, uses drive technology from SEW‑EURODRIVE

The new cableway to the Zugspitze is equipped with drive technology from SEW‑EURODRIVE

The project at a glance

Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
  • Location: Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany)
  • Industry: Tourism
  • Application: Passenger cableway

Historical milestones for the Zugspitze railway:

  • 1820: First ascent of the Zugspitze by Lieutenant Joseph Naus on August 27
  • 1926: Launch of the Kreuzeck rail service on May 28. It is the first aerial tramway in the German state of Bavaria
  • 1931: Launch of the summit cableway and opening of the Schneefernerhaus hotel
  • 1938: Construction and launch of Europe’s longest and steepest ski-lift in the Hausberg ski area
  • 1976: Construction and opening of the “Gletschersee” double ski-lift system
  • 2009: Launch of the “Kandahar Express” four-seater chairlift in the Hausberg resort as a replacement for the old “Kreuzjochbahn” two-seater car and the “Olympialift”.
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  • A high level of drive power for the cable car due to the gradients of up to 104% and the challenging track profile.
  • Drive for an emergency cable car for passenger rescue
  • Reliable drive systems
  • Ease of maintenance
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The challenges posed in the construction of the extremely steep new cable car needed powerful industrial gear units.

  • Dual-drive system: Two X3FS280 three-stage helical gear units drive the cable cars in load cycling with the power of two 900 kW AC motors.
  • An additional X3TH210-type gear unit was installed at the summit station. This gear unit is located on the cable car drive and has a nominal torque of 90,000 Nm.
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The industrial gear units supplied by SEW‑EURODRIVE each weigh nearly six tons and have a nominal torque of 240,000 Nm. The X-series gear units also feature low-noise gearing alongside their tremendous power, and are impressively easy to maintain. The series also features an extremely robust housing, which makes it ideal for use on the Zugspitze aerial cableway. The cable car to the Zugspitze summit was fitted with horizontal housing designed especially for this area of application. The dual-drive system deployed ensures operational reliability and high system availability.

Building the unprecedented

A world record with a new drive concept by SEW-EURODRIVE! The new cable car to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, sets multiple world records.
Cable car system | drive solutions | SEW-EURODRIVE

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A world record with a new drive concept by SEW-EURODRIVE! The new cable car to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, sets multiple world records.

Video: The drive technology on the Zugspitze aerial cableway

The new cable car system on Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, is an unprecedented project. Operational since December 2017, the completely redesigned aerial cableway transports up to 580 visitors per hour to the peak. The immense drive power for the aerial cableway, which is extremely steep in places, requires reliable industrial gear units: Two units from the X series by SEW‑EURODRIVE drive the transport cable, which heaves the cars to heights of 2943 meters with the force of a full-scale diesel locomotive.

Quote from Markus Reichmuth – Project Manager

I really have to say, the collaboration with Alfred Imhof was excellent. We had a contact person to provide reliable information.


The project in detail

All good things come in threes – the records

The Zugspitze cableway in front of a snow-covered mountain panorama.

Following three years of planning and three years of construction, the Zugspitze aerial tramway set three world records. The only support, with a structural steel design, is the highest of its kind at 127 meters. Between the support and the summit station, the aerial cableway negotiates a hitherto unseen 3213 meters of cable, and the height difference of 1945 meters on this section of cable is also unparalleled anywhere in the world.

The contract for the record-breaking project went to the Swiss cableway company Garaventa, which merged with the Austrian cableway manufacturer Doppelmayr back in 2002. To date, the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group has manufactured more than 14 000 cableway installations in over 90 countries. However, even with its impressive experience in the field, the cableway project for the Zugspitze was a challenging project for the company.

Powerful drive – an overview of the project technology

Blue AC motors from SEW‑EURODRIVE for the Zugspitze cableway drive.

Alongside the three records, the installed drive technology is also impressive. Two AC motors, each with a power of 900 kW, are connected to X3FS280-type three-stage helical gear units through KTR elastic claw couplings. Behind each coupling is a flywheel that is almost one meter in diameter and weighs an entire metric ton. The flywheels make the drive system easier to control. Each of the connected industrial gear units weighs just under six metric tons, exhibits a nominal torque of 240 000 Nm and can transfer an output of 1024 kW. An oil-air cooler ensures they maintain a specific temperature range. On each output side, a switchable pin coupling weighing over three tons provides the connection to the cable pulleys. An emergency drive can engage via gear couplings with the reverse side of the wheels.

A further gear unit from SEW‑EURODRIVE sits in the Zugspitze summit station. The X3TH210-type three-stage bevel-helical gear unit has a nominal torque of 90 000 Nm and is located on the cable car drive.

The gear unit – the X series

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Gear units from the X series by SEW‑EURODRIVE feature a wide gear ratio range and are very easy to maintain. The universal version of the robust housing in the series is invertible and can be used in all mounting positions. However, the horizontal housings used for the Seilbahn Zugspitze are specially designed for horizontal applications.

Properties and features of the X series industrial gear units

  • Independent industrial gear unit platform with 23 sizes
  • Helical gear units and bevel-helical gear units
  • Single-piece and split gear unit housing
  • Invertible gear unit housing
  • Universal mounting positions
  • Distinctive modular technology
  • Diverse predefined optional equipment and options
  • Customer-specific adaptations possible

Gear ratio and torques

Close table
Gear unit design Stages Gear ratio
Nominal torque MN2
kNm 1)
X.F.. helical gear units: 2-stage, 3-stage, and 4-stage 6.3 – 450 6.8 – 475
X.K.. bevel-helical gear units: 2-stage, 3-stage, and 4-stage 6.3 – 450 6.8 – 475
Bevel-helical gear units X.T..: 3-stage and 4-stage 12.5 – 450 6.8 – 175
  1. 1) We can offer you a project-specific solution for a torque range from 475 to 1200 kNm on request. Get in touch.
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