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France’s longest urban funicular opens, 86 years overdue

France's longest urban funicular opens, 86 years overdue

There are many engineering projects that have been delayed by Covid-19, but one in Toulouse in southwestern France, delayed more than 80 years by the outbreak of war and then by the pandemic, has finally opened this month.

It’s France’s longest funicular and is called the Téléo, and surprisingly it’s not in the Alps, but connects both sides of the Garonne River in France’s fourth-largest city, Toulouse, in southern France.

It was a man named Albert Bedouce who first proposed the scheme in 1936— he was Minister of Public Works under Prime Minister Léon Blum. However, when World War II began, the city had to abandon its plans.

A funicular is a good choice for city transport – the area is protected to preserve its natural beauty, limiting how much the existing and heavily congested roads can be extended. In addition, there is more than 100 meters of height difference from one side to the other.

It’s France’s first time using a funicular to help congested urban areas and gondolas are expected to carry 8,000 passengers per day with a cab arriving every 90 seconds during rush hour.

Now Toulouse joins major cities such as New York (Roosevelt Island Tramway), Barcelona (Montjuïc) and Rio de Janeiro (Bondinho do Pão de Açúcar) by using funiculars to transport urban residents and tourists around the city.

It is 3 kilometers long (almost 2 miles) connecting the large university and hospital to the city center and the cabins were designed by Paolo Pininfarina, the designer of Porsche and Maserati.

However, this cable car is positively a baby compared to others. France is also home to the Aiguille du Midithe cable car with the highest vertical ascent in the world, starting in Chamonix and running up the side of the Mont Blanc massif.

The world’s fastest mono cable car, as reported by CNNis the Genting Highlands in Malaysia, while the Tianmen Shan Ropeway in China is one of the world’s longest at nearly 7.5 kilometers (almost 5 miles).