The Aiguille du Midi cable-car (bottom to mid-station) will re-open tomorrow (Tuesday 31st August 2004) one day ahead of the expected date. The 2nd stage has been open since just after the crash but is inaccessible without a 2 hour walk and beyond the abilities of many of the visitors to the region.
The cable-car has been closed since an accident earlier in the summer which occurred during a maintenance check when a driver failed to notice the arrival (at speed) of the cabin into the mid-station.
Apparently, during the maintenance the cable-car was taken off the cable. When it was re-positioned this time the car was not in the right place - by several metres and without anyone noticing. The accident could have been averted had the driver noticed the arrival into the station.
The closure will have had significant financial impact on the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc (lift-company) who usually carries 1/5th of the Aiguille's annual 500,000 passengers during the month of August.
Mountain-guides and other local businesses will also have been affected during a season which has not been an exceptional one in terms of visitor numbers. Of particular significance the French, who typically holiday at home but who have felt the impact of reduced incomes driven by recent economic policy, have been wooed abroad by cheap package deals.