Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Austria to end valley's isolation

One of the last inhabited valleys in the Austrian Alps to lack a road link to the outside world is emerging from isolation.

An 800-metre (2,640ft) tunnel is being built through a mountain to make the Kaisertal in Tyrol more accessible. At the moment, getting there can be difficult. Twice a week, a rickety cable car gets loaded with crates of beer and sausages, destined for Kaisertal.
The ropeway, which transports supplies up the mountain, is a lifeline for the valley's 30-odd inhabitants but it is strictly for goods only. For generations, practically the only way of getting to Kaisertal has been on foot. The trek can be tough if you are old, sick or out of shape.

A few cars have already made it to Kaisertal - winched uphill by rope. Construction of the tunnel was held up for years because of environmentalist fears that the valley would be overrun by tourist traffic.
The provincial authorities have at present agreed to restrict the tunnel to the locals.