03 Jan
Riding the World’s Steepest Funicular Railway Riding the World’s Steepest Funicular Railway

Riding the World’s Steepest Funicular Railway

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Residents of Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington neighborhood routinely use cable cars to commute to and from work. Those who frequent the Bunker Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles often hitch a $1 ride on the Angel's Flight funicular from the top of the hill to Grand Central Market below.

One look at the railway known as the Stoosbahn, which links the village of Stoos with the mountain above it, and those squeamish about heights just might opt to schuss or slowly hike their way down the mountainside rather that hitching a ride on the funicular, a cable-based train that transports people along steep surfaces. 

The Stoosbahn is said to be the steepest railway of its kind in the world. Like other funicular railways, the Stoosbahn is specially designed to keep passengers in a normal, upright sitting position. Where other cable cars simply angle in the seats, though, the Stoosbahn's train uses a self-tilting mechanism that adjust accordingly to the changing grade.

Drivers of mountain roads might recall that so-called steep highway grades carry warning signs when the grade is around 10 or 12 per cent.

The Stoosbahn's grade? 47.73 degrees.

There's a steeper railway in Austria (52 degrees), but the Stoosbahn is the steepest funicular, where two sets of cars, one going up and the other coming down, counterbalance each other while attached to cables.

According to New Atlas, the cars are propelled at a top speed of 22 mph (10 meters per second) and make the uphill trip in four minutes. The trip's beginning altitude of 562 meters increases to 1,306 meters. The trains navigate a trio of tunnels and cross over 1,640 ft (500 meters) of bridge surface.

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Read 3603 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 03:31
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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