By David Mdzinarishvili
Before stepping inside I looked once more at the rust spots on the metal cabin with the cracked glass. Many times repainted and patched, it slowly swung on the massive cable, ready for its next flight.
Once it had been the first passenger cable car in the Soviet Union. Built in 1953 the cars still run without any holdups and haven’t required any major repair 60 years later. During soviet times 21 passenger cable cars routes were built. Fifteen of those, with a total length of 6579 meters (yards), are still working today.
Due to the mountain relief of the town of Chiatura, population 20,000, the cable cars are the quickest and most convenient way of getting around, and despite their advanced years, still the safest.
The main reason for the cable system is Chiatura manganese mining industry, they were built for this in Soviet times.
For locals the cable cars long ago became a symbol of the city and they will proudly tell of their unique system of transport.
Every line has its own peculiarities – the oldest is 60 years old, the steepest climbs at 48 degrees, another is the longest at 950 meters, still another rises highest to 190 meters, and so on. One man I met proudly added that a similar system had been built in Latvia, but the wagons have long since been in a museum, while ours still runs.