Cableway transport in Austria goes back many decades, in a tradition running from 1926, when the first cable car to the Rax opened, to the first chair lift which came into service in the Wildschönau in1947 and the opening in recent times of a tri-cable lift in Kitzbühel.
Development of the mountains is of enormous importance both to winter and summer tourism, as witness the fact that about three quarters of all winter holidaymakers come to Austria. The country’s 3 001 cable-driven lifts – 1 000 classified as public transport and 2 001 not classified as public transport (tow lifts) – carry some 600 million passengers a year, more journeys that the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and public buses together. The cableway industry has evolved into an essential feature of the country’s economy. In the period 2007/08 its total turnover was around 1 000 million Euro. Investment volumes of 557 million Euro go a considerable way towards funding regional development. Austria’s cableways also help to secure jobs in rural areas. The 261 cableway companies employ a total of about 14 300 people.
Cableways are one of the safest means of transport, due in part to the rigorous safety standards applied to them. The Federal Ministry works to maintain this high standard of quality and safety through co-operation at European level, but also in numerous national and international cableway organizations.
Milestones in the history of cableways
- 1892 first funicular to the Hohensalzburg fortress;
- 1926 first cable car lift to the Rax;
- 1936 first tow lift in Ebensee;
- 1947 first chair lift in the Wildschönau;
- 1972 first 3-seater chair lift in Zürs;
- 1972 first single-stage carrier with 4-seater cabins in Mellau;
- 1976 first detachable chair lift system in Neukirchen/Großvenediger;
- 1981 first single-stage carrier with 6-seater cabins in Gaschurn;
- 1987 first chair lift with "moving carpet" boarding;
- 1989 first group carrier in Saalbach;
- 1996 first double-single stage carrier in Hintertux;
- 2004 first tri-cable lift in Kitzbühel.