Mega-Lifts Aims To Take 500,000 Cars off Mountain Road

It appears that a huge lift project talked about for decades now has finance secured and will finally be built, with a 2025 opening date given.

The ‘Funiflaine’ lift which envisages a lift up from the valley floor to the Flaine ski resort has been talked about for about as long as the nearly 60 years the resort has existed. In the early 2000s a serious study in to the realities of such a lift was commissioned and the project was revisited around 2009, but the project has never got off the ground primarily because it fell short of a perceived cost/benefit ratio …up to now.

Now though, climate change concerns seem to be behind the project finally getting the green light, and funding, despite its expected cost almost tripling from the figure quoted a decade ago.

The latest reports indicate the Haute-Savoie region has signed an agreement with local resorts to build the lift up from Magland (halfway between Cluses and Sallanches) up to Flaine.

The POMA built lift will ascend 1,360 vertical metres over it 5.5km (3.5 mile) length in just 19 minutes. Only six support towers will be required for the lift to minimise impact.  The 68 cabins will each have a capacity of 35 people giving a remarkable capacity of 5000 people per hour.

The big win though it expected to be traffic volumes which damage the environment and cause peak time congestion on the mountain road up to Flaine. The lift’s backers say it will reduce vehicle traffic by half-a-million per annum and thus save 10 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted each year.

When the lift was last talked about a little over a decade ago a price tag of €35 million was mooted and the question asked, who would pay?  In 2021 that cost has risen to €89 million, making it one of the most expensive projects in mountain transport construction yet, but the question of who pays has been answered. €47 million contributed will come from regional government, €5 million from the local communes, €4 million from the State and the remaining €33 million from private finance.

It is not yet clear if there will be a direct rail link to the base of the lift.

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