With the clear decision on Sunday, 13 June 2021, the people of Flims said yes to the partial revision of the zone plan and the partial revision of the general development plan for the construction of a new gondola lift in Flims. This means that another hurdle has been cleared for the development of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sardona.
After the Flims voters approved the project planning loan of CHF 850,000 on 13 September 2015 and a contribution of CHF 20 million to the planned total costs of the development of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sadrona on 19 May 2019, another hurdle has been cleared with the clear voting result of 1,112 YES to 155 NO votes on Sunday, 13 June 2021. “We are in the home stretch. However, until we can break ground for the first construction phase, we must continue to “go slow but steady”, says Reto Gurtner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Weissen Arena Gruppe.
Acceptance of the new route
The adjustments to the general development plan of the municipality of Flims include, among other things, the inclusion of the new line of the gondola lift. “After more than 15 years and numerous ideas and concepts, I am very pleased that together with the municipality of Flims we have found the optimal solution, which I support 100%,” says Gurtner about the choice of route. This leads from Flims via Foppa and Startgels to the Segneshütte. From there the line leads to Nagens Sura to the left and to Ils Cugns to the right. The existing Flims – Foppa chairlift and the Startgels – Grauberg gondola will thus be replaced. The Foppa – Naraus chairlift will be dismantled without replacement.
Tourist beacon project with new technology
The Corona crisis and the associated shift in values have forced the Weisse Arena Gruppe to put its future projects to the test. Can planned large-scale projects such as the Cassons development be realised? Will guests still feel safe in large gondolas? In the months following the lockdown, Reto Gurtner, Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors, together with the ropeway builder Roland Bartholet of Flumser Bartholet Maschinenbau AG and Martin Hug, the current Mayor of Flims and at the time responsible for the Cableways & Infrastructure Division within the Weissen Arena Gruppe, scrutinised the existing plans in video conferences and planning sessions lasting several days.
The result was the idea of a real tourism beacon project: a detachable circulating cable car with 10 gondolas with a maximum capacity of 1,500 people per hour between Flims and Nagens Sura and 1,000 people per hour between the Segneshütte and Ils Cugns. Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, headquartered in Flums, was commissioned with the planning and construction of this tourism beacon project. The technology was developed specifically for this project: The cableway is to be operated fully automatically and according to demand. Guests select their destination before boarding and their gondola will then automatically navigate to that destination. In addition, the gondolas will only operate on demand and will not rotate on the train cable as usual. This concept not only significantly reduces energy consumption, but also cuts operating and maintenance costs.
First stage to be completed in 2022
The realisation of the cableway will take place in two stages: in 2022, the four sections Flims – Foppa – Startgels – Segneshütte – Nagens Sura are to be realised. In addition, the existing chairlifts Flims – Foppa and Foppa – Naraus as well as the Startgels – Grauberg gondola are to be dismantled. In the second stage, the Segneshütte – Ils Cugns section is to be built by 2023, followed by the UNESCO Visitor Centre in Ils Cugns.
In the following Flims community information of January 29, 2021, Martin Hug (Major of Flims, Member of the Board of Directors of Cassons AG), Marco Maranta (Head of the Flims Building Authority), Reto Gurtner (Member of the Board of Directors of WAG, Member of the Board of Directors of Cassons AG), Markus Wolf (CEO of WAG), Patrick Küng (Sales Switzerland BMF) and Claudio Deplazes (Project Manager of Cassons AG) provide information on the latest status of the «Cassons23» project (in German).