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Connecting St Anton with Lech

Stuben-am-Arlberg ski resort

Different yet alike, St Anton and Lech occupy pride of place in the Arlberg, the snowy Alpine pass that connects the provinces of Tirol and Vorarlberg. Austria’s golden twins are both covered by the Arlberg lift pass, making it the ticket of choice for all levels of skiers. At present the two resorts are separated by a short bus connection. It is possible to ski back and forth without the bus journey but only if you are an expert level skier. For the rest of us mere mortals, get in the queue!

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They've been talking about linking the two resorts for least a decade. It can only be a good thing, the bus is an absolute bun fight. Getting on the bus can be more challenging that the North Face of the Valluga! I've seen 300 people queuing at Alpe Rauz waiting for the bus to Lech. I’ve been in the queue and it’s no fun. Well, from next season, that will be a thing of the past. The Flexenbahn cableway will open in the winter of 2016/17 and will make skiing at the Arlberg even more varied and comfortable.

For holidaymakers in the Arlberg, the drawback of getting a bus from Lech Zurs to Stuben, St Christoph, St Anton or the other way round would be eliminated. There are some critical voices against the "Arlberg Ski Area Connection" plan. Ms Katharina Lins, nature conservancy lawyer from Voralberg, expressed many reservations. "Connecting Zurs to Alpe Rauz involves an area of land that is not yet developed. It will mean massive construction in the countryside. Building streets and mountain trails means invading nature. 

As for the environmental argument, I can't believe over the life of the lifts they will possibly contribute more CO2 than the motor transport that currently travels between the two areas. This project could actually be beneficial for nature, actually, if, in the winter, thousands fewer days guests from the Tyrol and Vorarlberg side from Lech to Zurs, park their cars in Stuben or St Anton am Arlberg. 

The whole construction project, including all new cableways, was planned in great detail and with the utmost care; in the first stage, the new cableway for the practice run in Zürs was built in the summer of 2015. This will be followed by the construction of Trittkopfbahn I and II in Zürs and the new Albonabahn II in Stuben/Rauz. The new Flexenbahn will be created in the same phase, but no new pistes. In this way the natural beauty of the landscape will be preserved. The new Flexenbahn is not only a great asset for skiers, the environment also benefits from many advantages. Because when the new cableway opens, the number of daily bus trips between Zürs and Stuben/Alpe Rauz via the Flexengallery will be reduced by 120. In addition, the amenity of the resorts will be improved as fewer cars will come directly to the villages. Furthermore, the time needed to travel will be reduced, depending on the route of travel, so that each individual skier will make a contribution to environmental protection. All this should go some way to allaying the fears of the conservationists.

The new cableway is a single circulating cable system with 47 cabins for 10 persons each. This means that, with a travel time of about 6 minutes, the cableway can transport up to 2,400 persons per hour. The Flexenbahn runs high above the Flexenpass road, covering a distance of almost 1.8 kilometres and an altitude difference of over 562 metres. Each of the comfortably fitted out cabins has large panorama panes, offering an unobstructed view into the Klostertal valley and towards the Arlberg pass/St. Christoph – a breathtaking landscape.

With the help of the new link between Zürs and Stuben/Rauz, skiers can easily reach all resorts at the Arlberg on skis. That will make the Arlberg skiing area the largest contiguous skiing area in Austria!