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The Ještěd Aerial Cableway Has Been Enjoyed for Eight Decades

Exceptional, attractive, popular, safe – the Ještěd aerial cableway certainly deserves all of these appellations. The cableway’s unique character derives mainly from the surrounding landscape and the upper station in close proximity to the unmistakable Ještěd transmitter and hotel building, which is among this country’s national cultural monuments and architectural gems. The only cableway owned by ČD has been operating for eighty years.

Lanová dráha na Ještěd dělá radost už osm desetiletíThe suspended-cabin cableway to Ještěd began operations on 27 June 1933. At the time, it was only the second aerial cableway in the Czech lands. Except for the years 1943–1945, it was always owned by Czechoslovak State Railways (ČSD), and, after the breakup of the federation, by Czech Railways (ČD). The cableway underwent an extensive reconstruction in the first half of the 1970s, and has been operating in its current form since New Year’s Eve 1975.

Gifts for passengers

In connection with the eightieth anniversary, ČD has prepared a small gift for its customers. On several of the last days in July, passengers could take advantage of the VLAK+ Ještěd Cableway 2013 special offer, under which a return ticket was sold to every interested party for the price of a regular one-way ticket. They thus saved half off the basic price. On the precise day of the anniversary – i.e. on Thursday, 27 June – every paying passenger (it is also possible to ride on the cableway using an In-karta card with the Railway ID application) received one of three stylised retro-postcards.

Festive evacuation

On the occasion of this major anniversary of the aerial cableway, ČD also made accessible the engine room of the upper station, Ještěd. The festivities also included a practical demonstration of an evacuation of occupants from a cabin with the help of a rope with a special emergency seat near the lower station, Horní Hanychov. But as former railway chief Josef Šaroun – who attended the festivities – notes, throughout the history of its operations, no passenger has ever suffered a serious injury. “I worked on the aerial cableway continuously for 33 years and a truly have only positive memories of this service,” adds Josef Šaroun with a smile.

Former chief cashier Libuše Suchardová actively participated in the evacuation exercise as well. “I wasn’t afraid of descending on the rope; it was a great experience which reminded me of a similar event more than three decades ago when I descended from a red cabin,” said the vivacious lady, whose age at the time no one would have guessed.

As part of the festivities, the cableway’s third cabin – the so-called reserve – was displayed in front of the North Bohemian Museum in Liberec. On display there was also a functional 1:7-scale model of the original Ještěd cableway by Václav Hrubý, which was probably most intriguing for the children visiting the museum.

A pioneering work built in the 1930s by purely Czech companies

The cableway has undoubtedly become the pride not only of ČD but also of the City of Liberec. Its attractiveness is bolstered by the presence of the transmitter on top of Ještěd Mountain, which also serves as a hotel and restaurant – and especially by its wondrous view of far-away landscapes. Czechoslovak State Railways (ČSD) began construction of the cableway in the Liberec Basin on 15 June 1932, thereby becoming a pioneer of this type of transport in our republic. Exclusively Czech companies participated in the construction, especially the company of František Wiesner of Chrudim, later the Transporta national enterprise, which had extensive experience with freight cableways.

The whole technology was first subjected to demanding tests including test rides with weights which were conducted under close supervision. At that time, after all, people did not yet have the sense of automatic trust in aerial transport. The project was extremely successful, and the region obtained not only an apparatus of extraordinary technical quality, but also a tourist attraction. ČD employees now take loving care of the Ještěd aerial cableway’s good name.

MARTIN HARÁK

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