Hoher Kasten Undertakes "Tunnel Construction At The Right Time"

In the past financial year, the difficult time with lockdown, operational restrictions and certification requirements was used as optimally as possible on the Hohe Kasten. The company could hardly have stopped operations for the tunnel expansion at a more suitable time, as Hoher Kasten revolving restaurant and cable car AG (HKDS) states in its 2021 annual report. In the season, which was shortened to seven and a half months, 146,260 guests were transported. That is 17,863 trips or 13.9% more than in the previous year, but 22.6% less than the average of the last five years. Because the company is sticking to the high depreciation of CHF 980,828, the bottom line for the 2021 annual accounts is a loss of CHF 284,531.20.
Due to the construction work on the tunnel, cable car operations on the Hohe Kasten could only start on May 8, 2021. However, the guests returned hesitantly in the summer, which was characterized by corona protection measures. The number of guests was well below average in the first few months, which was not only due to the limited capacity of the cable car, but also to the wet summer weather. September finally brought pleasing numbers of guests. But then the 2G rule was imposed on September 13 and the group business, which was important for the Hohe Kasten, collapsed completely by the end of the year.

Tunnel construction at the right time

In view of the operating restrictions and the noticeable uncertainty among the guests, the closure of the company could hardly have been scheduled for a better time. The existing tunnel was widened in two construction stages to make room for a new inclined lift.

The annual report highlights the performance of the employees and contractors during the construction of the tunnel. The winter was cold and snowy, the tunnel construction dusty, stuffy and noisy, the rock unexpectedly hard.
The inclined lift was put into operation on May 8, 2021 with a temporary solution and on July 2, 2021 with the new cabin. It is particularly gratifying that the cost estimate of CHF 2.7 million was met exactly.

Barrier-free from the valley to the summit

With the new inclined lift in the tunnel, the Hohe Kasten can be walked and driven on without barriers from the valley station to the revolving restaurant. The lift can simultaneously transport twelve passengers or four wheelchairs through the 29 meter long tunnel.

After arriving at the mountain station of the Kastenbahn, the guests are captivated by an artistic tunnel staging. Mystical sounds to colorful, moving projections on the walls of the widened tunnel set exciting acoustic and visual accents.

Higher depreciation requirement

In the seven and a half months of the last financial year, rail sales amounted to CHF 1,858,253, an increase of CHF 264,270 or 17% compared to the previous year. After all, that is 74% of the average rail turnover in the last three pre-Corona years. With increased personnel and material expenses, an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of CHF 641,142 remained, which is very pleasing in view of the circumstances and the construction phase. In the time before Corona, the EBITDA was over CHF 1.3 million.

With the commissioning of the new tunnel, operationally necessary depreciation rose by around CHF 130,000 to CHF 980,828. The Board of Directors decided to make this in full, even if it resulted in an annual loss of CHF 284,531.
Parking management now also in Brülisau

Around three quarters of parking space use in Brülisau is proven to be by guests who do not use the cable car. However, because the HKDS bears 80% of the costs for instruction, maintenance and snow clearance, the polluter-pays principle should be applied. After the introduction of parking lot management in Appenzell, Wasserauen and Jakobsbad, the time for free parking is now also up in Brülisau.

The planning application for four parking machines is currently in progress. In the future, parking in the HKDS car parks will cost up to eight francs per day, with the first hour and a half being free. Payment is made by Twint or with money, as well as via the Parkingpay app. Various special solutions and season tickets are planned for residents, businesses and clubs.  

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