The new 8-Person Senderexpress
A Quantum Leap in the Almenwelt Lofer
In the course of modernizing the lift system in the Almenwelt Lofer the outdated 4-person Schönbühel chairlift was dismantled and replaced by the latest generation modern 8-person Doppelmayr chairlift. Willi Leitinger, manager of the Almenwelt Lofer, told us in an interview why there were tears to say goodbye, how the new construction is a quantum leap for the family ski area and what Argentina has to do with the whole thing.
There are pictures showing how the lift personnel toasted the last ride of the old Schönbühel lift and also lit candles. What emotions came flooding out when you bid farewell?
Many colleagues spent many years working on the four-person lift and there was definitely a nostalgic atmosphere as the chairlift carried the last skiers up to the summit and was switched off forever. There was a feeling of gratitude for nearly 30 years of service. But I think that since then everyone is looking forward to a new ultra-modern lift. Ing. Bernd Millinger, our chief operating manager, began to work for the company at exactly the same time as the old lift was opened in 1991. In those days it was an achievement and a 4-person lift was an absolute sensation. 30 years later we are almost glad that the old thing is finally gone. You see how fast time passes and how everything changes during the course of your professional life.
What is going to happen to the old lift now?
It will go to Argentina and will have a lot more years of service there. We don’t know in which ski area this will be. A second-hand lift can not be installed a second time in EU countries and because of this many of the Austrian lifts are shipped to South America.
What does the investment in the modern 8-person chairlift SENDEREXPRESS mean for the future of skiing in the Almenwelt Lofer?
The investment of around 10 million euros constitutes a quantum leap in quality. The old 4-person lift had 30 years under its belt and didn’t meet the demands of modern times anymore. This was seen in the relative difficulty of getting on and off, which meant it had to stop repeatedly. The new Senderexpress transports 3000 people per hour and is a perfect addition to the other modern lifts in the Almenwelt Lofer. Thanks to the much higher speed and bigger capacity we can look forward to half the journey time. The pistes of the Senderexpress are some of the most beautiful in the ski area, thanks to its northerly orientation and can be skied when other slopes are already slushy.
In recent years there has been real investment and renovation in the ski area. What is the overall concept behind these measures?
We focus on families, beginners and returners. Our offer is constantly being improved and extended. This doesn’t just apply here on the mountain with cheap family ski passes but also across the whole region. Our guests are collected by ski bus in the morning and brought directly to the valley station and after a day of skiing fun, back again.
From accommodation hosts, to restaurants, to the ski schools, there is a perfect chain of service which we as the lift system also feel bound to. For this reason we are continuously investing in new lifts which can meet our and our guests` expectations of quality. The new Senderexpress is just the logical extension of a phase of modernization which began with the construction of the new main access lift, the Almen-Achter-Schwarzeck lift and the huge reservoir. In the medium-term, the connection of Almbahn I and Almbahn II is planned so that we can ride up to the Almenwelt without having to change. But at the moment that is still in the future.
The construction of a new chairlift does not happen overnight. How did the process work? From the first idea until the realization in 2019?
You could say that we had to work intensively for around two years. First of all there was a meeting of the owners of the land, then the finances were put in place and finally the planning and implementation phases began. For a small ski area like ours, it is a big undertaking and everything has to be right. After all, the Senderexpress should be in operation for 50 years.
What will change in terms of safety when the new lift opens?
As a ski area we place the utmost importance on safety. Thanks to the rising conveyor belt, children under one metre tall can also safely and independently get on the lift. During the journey the automatic safety bar ensures maximum safety. And comfort also reaches a new level. Alongside the two gondolas, from now on three efficient and weatherproof chairlifts await our guests. Combined with the covered conveyor belt for the little ones, we can offer optimal skiing pleasure even during snowfall.
Finally: What are you looking forward to most on the new lift?
To the guests’ satisfaction. I am certain that the feedback will be very positive and the new Senderexpress will go down well with skiers. To us it really represents a quantum leap for which we have worked for a long time and it’s great when everything is running well and we can see this in the happy and smiling faces.
Almenwelt Lofer invests in a new 8-person chairlift
The building work for an enormous improvement in comfort in the Almenwelt Lofer is still ongoing. The 4-person chairlift Schönbühel (built in 1991) was dismantled after the winter season 18/19 and brings skiers up the mountain in Argentina. There is a modern, comfortable, childproof 8-person chairlift with bubbles and heated seating in operation on the Schönbühel since winter 19/20. Piste improvements: the valley station is around 70 metres lower (1337m) than before. The mountain station remains unchanged on Schönbühel at 1623 metres. There will be a wider range of pistes in the future. The main piste in the lower area will be broadened and a new piste laid out along the route of the old lift. The pistes on the north side offer very good quality even in the afternoons or in spring.
- Transport capacity: 3000p/h beginning of development (3400p/h final expansion) – previous max. 1900 p/h
- Journey time and speed: 5 min. or 5.5 metres/sec.. –( previous 12 min. or 2.2 m/sec.)
- Length: 1.200 metres (previous 1140m)
- Finance: total investment € 10.5 million