Kanin cable car not to run this winter
The skiing season at Slovenia's highest resort is hanging in the air following a decision that the Kanin cable car will not run this winter. The slopes will remain closed unless agreement is reached for access from the Italian side through the Sella Nevea ski resort.
Media reported at the beginning of this month that inspectors shut down the Kanin cable car, whose lifespan expires at the end of the year after 50 years of operation.
A week ago the resort said the cable car would not operate this winter because it would not be able to meet the demands to obtain a new operating permit on time.
The National Building and Civil Engineering Institute as the body in charge of ski lifts in the country checked the cable car to find that not all its sections are suitable for operation.
Media have also reported that the authority found that special check-up and maintenance work paperwork was non-compliant, and that the resort operator does not have qualified staff for measurements and maintenance of certain sections of the cable car.
Manuela Božič Badalič, director of the resort's operator, told the Bovec municipality a week ago that one of the demands issued was replacement of parts on pylon wheel sets, of which there are over a hundred on the cable car.
She said that would involve an extensive renovation that would take more than three months, which meant the cable car would not be able to obtain a new operating permit before the winter season.
The chair lifts on the Kanin slopes have operating permit until the end of 2024 and the Bovec municipality is now in talks to allow access to the resort from the Sella Nevea slopes.
Such a solution would be logistically challenging but Slovenia's only cross-border resort will remain closed unless an agreement is reached with the Italian side.
A full renovation of the resort was announced at the end of 2021 and was to cost €55 million, but the plans were eventually shelved.
The Economy, Tourism and Sport Ministry is reportedly looking for a solution within the existing legislation and plans to publish an open call that would also include other ski slopes.
In another blow, the newspaper Dnevnik reported on 27 October that the resort is under investigation from the National Bureau of Investigation on suspicion that the outdated devices put the safety of visitors at risk.
Police are tight-lipped about the investigation, so it is not clear whom it targets. According to Dnevnik, the probe is directly connected to the problems the resort faces because of the inappropriate cable car.
Earlier this month the operator's supervisory board pushed for the municipal council to dismiss the director over negligence and failure to exercise due care, but the item did not make it to the council's agenda.
Božič Badalič denied that passengers's safety was at risk. She told the Slovenian Press Agency Kanin experts believed the support wheeling wear determined by the institute did not affect the safety of the cable car.
She said the pylon wheel sets were completely replaced in 2016 and under technical standards were not to be opened in 15 years.
The French supplier Poma recommends in the documents that the cable car should not be in operation beyond 2022, but "does not say anywhere that this is when it should be shut down", Božič Badalič said.
"A cable car does not have a life span, it can be upgraded, repaired," she said, noting that in Slovenia and in some other countries there were quite a few cable cars older than 50 years operating normally.