Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company Confirms Maintenance Shutdown 2024

Industry & Government News
  • All commercial operations close for seven weeks (15 July to 1 September 2024).
  • Scale of shutdown last seen in 1997.
  • Hiking pathways directly under the Cableway’s cables will be closed due to work overhead. Other hiking routes will remain open for hikers. 
  • Accessing hiking routes via Tafelberg Road will be impacted. 
  • The City’s work on Tafelberg Road continues while Cableway closes for business. 


Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) has transported millions of people to the summit of Table Mountain since it first started operating in 1929. The Cableway itself is regarded as a feat of engineering. It adheres to the most stringent international standards, such as the Swiss BAV regulations for cableways.


To ensure strict compliance to the preventive maintenance protocols stipulated by these global governing standards and guidelines, TMACC closes the Cableway annually to complete certain required tasks. 


“Just like how we take our cars in for regular servicing, based on actual mileage, we rigorously inspect and service every aspect of the Cableway, ensuring consistent alignment with international best practice and the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) specifications,” says Andries de Vries, Technical Executive at TMACC.


The annual maintenance shutdown happens in the middle of the year, after the mid-year school holidays, during South Africa’s winter season which is generally  quieter period for tourism. 


While there is never a perfect or ideal time to schedule such work, the winter period poses the least impact for travellers who come from all corners of the Earth to experience the natural wonder of Table Mountain. 


However, not all maintenance shutdowns are equally intensive. Whereas some maintenance periods are less intensiveand disruptive, the work planned for 2024 is more extensive.


The various pieces of equipment and components of the Cableway (including the cable cars themselves, the track ropes, and other infrastructure items) each require their own unique routine inspection cadences and maintenance cycles, as recommended by the OEM. 


All TMACC’s equipment is manufactured by world cableway market leader Doppelmayr Garaventa Group who boasts an impressive 15 600 installations worldwide. 


A 1997 TMACC facilities upgrade saw the introduction of this Swiss-made cableway system boasting two rotating cable cars, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the scenic mountainside, each of which can carry 65 passengers. The pre-’97 cable cars transported only 28 people each. 


The rotating cable cars run on a dual-cable track-rope which improves stability during high winds and can ascend to the summit much faster than their single-cable counterparts. 


TMACC will perform a full cable replacement for the first time since the 1997 revamp, as well as maintenance of the hanging and running gear, as per OEM (Doppelmayr Garaventa) specifications.


“This winter we will be replacing all four of the 1.5 km-long track rope cables (the station-to-station length is 1.2 km),” de Vries says.


No detail is spared, and the engineers will inspect every minutia of the operating equipment, the cars, and all their component mechanisms. In addition to the cable replacement, all the hanging gear and running gear, will be subjected to a complete disassembly, followed by a comprehensive nuts-and-bolts overhaul. 


Thus, while last year’s shutdown was completed in only two weeks, the 2024 shutdown will be particularly extensive, spanning a full seven weeks. 


With TMACC closing from the 15th of July and recommencing operations (weather permitting) on the 2nd of September, this shutdown will be the longest since the 1997 upgrade and will effectively span the second half of SA’s winter season. 


The Cableway, along with all commercial and public outlets and operations at both the Upper and Lower Stations will remain closed to the public for the duration. This includes shops, restaurants, and ablution facilities.


“To complete the extensive work, key tooling like winches – which are extremely large and heavy must be flown up the mountain piecemeal, by heavy-lift helicopter, and then expertly assembled at the summit,” De Vries notes.


Over the coming weeks, throughout the build-up to the shutdown, Cape Town residents and tourists can expect early morning helicopter activity on and around the mountain, as equipment is flown to the top.


“Planning for this maintenance operation began back in 2022 already,” De Vries notes, adding that Cape Town’s often-inclement winter weather could possibly throw another spanner in the works.


Ahead of the maintenance, TMACC started shipping in specialist equipment, supplies, and the necessary tooling from Switzerland, months in advance. This time buffer also serves as a safety net against possible port delays.


“Skills transfer is a significant, yet often overlooked aspect of our annual maintenance shutdowns,” says de Vries. He explains that an expert team, from the OEM will fly in from Switzerland to assist the TMACC crew with the maintenance work. 


“This gives our local technicians a valuable chance to learn new skills and work alongside some of the world’s best cableway equipment specialists, thereby bolstering our local knowledge base and technical skills capacity. The practical experience TMACC engineering staff will get over these seven weeks is invaluable.”.


Despite the fact that there are no building renovations planned for this year, de Vries reiterated that all the food and beverage outlets as well as ablution facilities will be closed throughout the shutdown period.  


TMACC staff members and vendors who operate the various stalls at the Upper and Lower Stations, will take a much-deserved break during the shutdown. 


“Some of our staff have built up leave which they will use now, while others will take the chance to undergo skills training workshops while the operation is closed,” says Selma Hercules, Executive Director at TMACC.


“But the mountain itself is still accessible to hikers. Most of the routes and walkways will still be accessible, and you can still climb to the summit. However, the hiking trails directly under the pathway of the cables will be closed as there will be extensive work happening overhead. 


“The key difference is that there will be no cable car trips to take you up or more importantly bring you to the bottom. Thus, hikers should be mindful of changing weather conditions when embarking on a hike up Table Mountain, knowing that they would have to hike down.”


A separate project currently underway at the foot of Table Mountain, is the rehabilitation of Tafelberg Road by the City of Cape Town. Sections of Tafelberg Road will be closed to traffic at certain times, and road users are urged to always comply with instructions issued by officials who are directing the flow of traffic. 


“The timing was not planned but is fortuitous in terms of safety and access. It means that the overall disruption for members of the public can further be limited as the bulk of the road rehabilitation project will happen during this seven-week shutdown,” says Wahida Parker, Managing Director of TMACC.


TMACC also reminds the public that their free birthday ticket promotion remains valid. South Africans whose birthdays fall within the 2024 annual maintenance shutdown period can still claim their free TMACC birthday ticket during the month of September 2024 (SA ID, driver’s licence or birth certificate required).


TMACC Closure Map