Cable-car Safety

20 December 2005

A new Standard (NZS 5270:2005 – Cable-cars for private residences: Design, construction and maintenance) will help avoid potentially fatal accidents by ensuring home-owned cable-cars are safe.

Spectacular Wellington views are often accompanied with the burden of a steep climb and tricky access.  But many Wellingtonians tackle this problem with their own private cable-car.

As property developments continue to thrive on the hills, the demand for private cable-cars is steadily increasing. An estimated 300 residential cable-cars can now be spotted all around Wellington, and other hilly parts of New Zealand are also catching on to the cable-car solution.

But unfortunately, some residential cable-cars have lacked basic safety features, resulting in several serious accidents and one death.

“One family narrowly escaped death when their cable-car lost control down a very steep incline,” says Mark Galvin from cable-car design and manufacturing company Access Automation Ltd. “They were travelling so fast, the cable-car left the rails at the bottom.  Fortunately, they escaped serious injury.”

“Many old home-made cable-cars operating around Wellington have been badly constructed, poorly maintained, and owners were not supplied with safe operating instructions,” says Mr Galvin.

This concern and the rising accident toll prompted the inclusion of residential cable-cars in the Building Act 2004. The Department of Building and Housing then initiated the development of the Standard.
“The new Standard sets a bench mark for minimum safety requirements,” says Mr Galvin, who was also a member of the committee that developed the Standard. “It will also be useful for all cable-cars owners, as it clearly defines their maintenance and inspection responsibilities.” 

Mr Galvin says Access Automation has had an excellent safety record over 15 years, and he was pleased to pass on to the committee some of the safety lessons they have learned.

He says cable-car accidents often involve children getting caught between the cable-car and the landing decks.  The new Standard addresses this by setting out deck designs and clearances between cable cars and any fixed structures.  

Mark Batt, Business Relationship Manager at Standards NZ, says manufacturers and Territorial Authorities now have clear performance and safety measures to meet, and home-owners can be reassured that cable cars that meet the Standard will be safe.

Copies of the Standard are available for purchase on-line: or call: 0800 782 632

Media contact: Zoe Priestley, SNZ 04 498 3986 021 475 945