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ThyssenKrupp's 'Willy Wonka' plan for metros

MULTI for Metros image 5

Industry representatives met in London yesterday (7 June) for a panel discussion on the Multi lift system’s application to metros.

There are 167 lifts on the London Underground, but for now commuters are limited to two choices when it comes to travel – up or down.

ThyssenKrupp’s Multi lift, dubbed the “Willy Wonka” system, allows for multiple lifts to operate on the horizontal and vertical planes. Designed without ropes, the system opens up the possibility for buildings to become both higher and wider in design.

The system takes its inspiration from the paternoster lift, a system that remains popular in Germany while falling from favour in the UK.


Multi allows lift systems to take up a smaller footprint in buildings, an important advantage for metro systems.

“The original submerging of train lines underground was absolutely revolutionary for its time, but as passenger demand continues to rise it is unsurprising that the sub-ground location of these lines make it incredibly difficult for developers to bring them up to date with modern capacity and access requirements,” commented panellist Chris Williamson, co-founder and partner at architecture firm Weston Williamson. 

The system opens up the possibility for new lines to be constructed beneath existing lines, and for stations to be expanded, he added.

At the moment Multi is confined to the ThyssenKrupp test tower. Three shafts out of 12 in the tower are devoted to the system. The company is planning for a first working installation in 2017.

“We are looking for an innovative partner,” said ThyssenKrupp CEO Andreas Schierenbeck.

“Multi was initially developed for tall buildings, to double elevator shaft capacity, reduce elevator footprint, and offer vertical and horizontal movement to enable architects to construct taller, more creative and more user friendly structures, but its concept makes it a prime solution to the challenges of metro stations as well. If applied it would undoubtedly change the face of London’s transport network, and reinforce the UK’s position at the head of global innovations,” he added.

“It’s not that we are saying it’s the end of the rope-based elevators, forget them,” Schierenbeck told New Civil Engineer. Hydraulic and rope-based lifts will always excel at certain tasks, he said. 

“At the moment this fills very specific niches and makes interesting solutions, but it’s not one-size-fits-all,” he added. 

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