“On Top of the World”
27 May 2022
I have gone up in the world.
There’s a really marvellous cable car at a remote place called Fuente Dé, just a few miles from where we’re staying for the week in northern Spain.
The views when you reach the top are simply stunning. And you hear the constant tinkle of cowbells from the surrounding slopes. Now, bear with me…
The cable car line is said to be the longest single-span aerial lift in Europe, having two independent sections with one cabin each, holding 20 people at a time. The bottom station is located at 1090m (3,576ft) and the upper one at 1850m (6,070ft). The ride lasts just under four minutes and it’s wonderful.
Historically, the remote area around Fuente Dé had traditionally focused on mining and agriculture, but as the world modernised, the cable car project was suggested as a tourist attraction. Local people were rightly insistent that any construction should not spoil the landscape.
After four years’ work, the facility opened in 1966 but it was quite a feat of engineering. Several challenges had to be overcome, particularly in excavating the sheer mountainside and hauling the necessary reinforced concrete into place. However, the cable car quickly proved to be a success and is very popular with tourists.
This reminds me of construction projects like HS2, Hinkley Point and other nuclear facilities, road improvements, wind turbine installations, solar farms and all the other projects as Britain ‘builds back better’. Each will require careful evaluation of the opportunity costs involved.
But if approved and completed, such undertakings can bring huge benefits to travellers, businesses and consumers, as well as pioneering new building techniques and technologies. It also provides opportunities for training and learning new skills.
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Photos: Alan Guthrie