AskDefine | Define telpherage

Dictionary Definition

telpherage n : a transportation system in which cars (telphers) are suspended from cables and operated on electricity [syn: telferage]

User Contributed Dictionary



From telpher + -age.




  1. An automated transportation system powered by electricity, especially a cable car used to transport minerals or other goods.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 1125:
      the coming of the snows is no longer the year's curse but its promise, awaited eagerly for its influx of moneyed seekers after wintertime recreation, when the shining strands of telpherage have subdued every mountainside, and all is festival and wholesome sport and eugenically chosen stock

Extensive Definition

An aerial tramway is a type of aerial lift in which a cabin is suspended from a cable and is pulled by another cable.
Aerial tramways are often called a cable car or ropeway, and sometimes incorrectly referred to as a gondola lift (not to be confused with a gondola). Because of the proliferation of such systems in the Alpine regions of Europe, the French and German language names of Téléphérique and Seilbahn are often also used in an English language context. "Cable car" is the usual term in British English, as in British English the word "tramway" generally refers to a railed street tramway. Note also that, in American English, "cable car" is most often associated with surface cable car systems, e.g. San Francisco's Cable Cars, so careful phrasing is necessary to prevent confusion.


An aerial tramway is one or two fixed cables (called track cables), one loop of cable (called a haulage rope), and two passenger cabins. The fixed cables provide support for the cabins. The haulage rope, by means of a grip, is solidly connected to the truck (the wheel set that rolls on the track cables). The haulage rope is usually driven by an electric motor and being connected to the cabins, moves them up or down the mountain.
Aerial tramways differ from gondola lifts in that the latter use several smaller cabins suspended from a circulating looped cable.
Two-car tramways use a jig-back system: A large electric motor is located at the bottom of the tramway so that it effectively pulls one cabin down, using that cabin's weight to help pull the other cabin up. A similar system of cables is used in a funicular railway. The two passenger cabins, which carry from 4 to over 150 people, are situated at opposite ends of the loops of cable. Thus, while one is coming up, the other is going down the mountain, and they pass each other midway on the cable span.
Some aerial trams have only one cabin, which lends itself better for systems with small elevation changes along the cable run.
Many aerial tramways were built by Von Roll Ltd. of Switzerland, which has since been acquired by Austrian lift manufacturer Doppelmayr. The German firm of Bleichert built hundreds of freight and military tramways .
An escape aerial tramway is a special form of the aerial tramway that allows a fast escape from a dangerous location. They are used on rocket launching sites in order to offer the launch staff or astronauts a fast retreat. The tramway consists of a rope which runs from the launch tower downward to a protection shelter. On the launch supply tower several small cabs can be occupied by the launch staff or the astronauts. After loosening a barrier these roll downward to the protection shelter. An escape aerial tramway exists on the launch pads 39A and 39B on Cape Canaveral.
Some aerial tramways have their own propulsion, such as the Lasso Mule or the Josef Mountain Aerial Tramway near Merano.


The original version was called telpherage, and was invented by Scottish engineer Fleeming Jenkin. Smaller telpherage systems are sometimes used to transport objects such as tools or mail within a building or factory.
The telpherage concept was first publicised in 1883 and several experimental lines were constructed. It was not designed to compete with railways, but with horses and carts.
The first commercial telpherage line was in Glynde, which is in Sussex, England. It was built to connect a newly-opened clay pit to the local railway station and opened in 1885.

Double deckers

There are aerial tramways with double deck cabins. The Vanoise Express cable car carries 200 people in each cabin at a height of 380 m (1250') over the Ponturin gorge in France. The Shinhotaka Ropeway carries 121 people in each cabin at the Hotakadake in Japan.


List of accidents

  • October 312007: The Flaine lift Les Grands Platieres or DMC broke down for six hours and was evacuated.


telpherage in Catalan: telefèric
telpherage in German: Luftseilbahn
telpherage in Spanish: teleférico
telpherage in Esperanto: Telfero
telpherage in French: Téléphérique
telpherage in Indonesian: Kereta gantung
telpherage in Italian: Funivia aerea
telpherage in Hebrew: רכבל
telpherage in Dutch: Kabelbaan
telpherage in Japanese: 索道
telpherage in Portuguese: Teleférico
telpherage in Russian: Канатная дорога
telpherage in Simple English: Cable car
telpherage in Swedish: Kabinbana
telpherage in Ukrainian: Канатна дорога
telpherage in Contenese: 吊車
telpherage in Chinese: 索道
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