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Page first written 5 May 2003
Last updated 14 May 2003
The official opening of Birmingham's SkyRail
Apart from the weather, which was actually rainy and not good for photographing, I had one anxiety -- if a system like this were to "inaugurate" on a certain day, in Japan it would be operational from early in the morning. How about, then, in the UK?
I could not find that information on the web, so I decided to get up early and go to the station anyway. On the exit of the Birmingham International station, a sign showed where "Official opening" was being held. I thought it an opening ceremony. It actually was being held in the concourse, and passengers could not approach the system because of those senior people enjoying drinks and chatting with each other ... and, besides that was another sign saying "Sky Rail will become open to public from 14:00 hours today"!
Therefore, because there was nothing I could do, I decided to go back to the university, and come back here again in the afternoon. Fortunately the rain, which was quite heavy in the morning, cleared up when I came back to the airport site again.
This system is called "Doppelmayr Cable Car (DCC)", the rope-driven system from Holland. The track was laid on the girders formerly used for the famous maglev people mover system, the first in the world of its kind. DCC drives two trains at once using one rope, but unlike normal funicular railways which have exchange facilities in the middle, this system in Birmingham is double track for the whole section.
As can be seen in the picture, the view from the train is superb.
Both the railway station and airport terminal buildings were extended to accomodate the platforms of Sky Rail. The new concourse on the railway side had displays of the departures and arrivals of the airplanes.
This Sky Rail system is free of charge. Operated with about 5 minutes' interval, it gives passengers a convenient means of transport between the terminals. The challenge will be whether the reliability of the system can be maintained in the future, but I do hope it can, serving passengers for as long as possible.
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TAKAGI, Ryo firstname.lastname@example.org (c) R. Takagi 2003. All rights reserved.