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SUISSE news Winter 2017 / January 2018

World's Steepest Funicular Rail Line to Open in Switzerland

Schwyz-Stoos funicular, hailed as triumph of engineering, goes into service on Sunday

Swiss engineering and technology have reached new heights with the opening of the world’s steepest funicular rail line.The €44.6m Schwyz-Stoos funicular (Standseilbahn Schwyz-Stoos in German), which goes into public service on Sunday, has been hailed as a triumph of modern design engineering. A level-adjusting function will allow the space-age-looking carriages, accessible to all users, to remain horizontal while speeding up the mountain at up to 10 metres a second. It is due to be opened on Friday by the president of the Swiss federal council, Doris Leuthard, in the Alpine resort of Stoos, 1,300 metres (4,300ft) above sea level in central Switzerland. The train, two lines of cylindrical carriages, resembling beer barrels, will allow passengers to remain upright at all times, even as they ascend – or descend – the 1,720-metre track, climbing or descending 743 metres along gradients as steep as 110% (47.7º).

The World's Steepest Rallway
It will run from the valley station near Schwyz into the mountain village of Stoos, population 100, about 30 miles (50km) south of Zurich. Ivan Steiner, a spokesman for the railway, said the funicular replaced an older one that had operated since 1933. “After 14 years of planning and building, everyone is very proud of this train,” he said. The Gondola Project, a website dedicated to cable-propelled transport systems, said the scheme had faced a number of challenges even before work had begun. Then when construction started in July 2013, it faced hold-ups. “Designers analysed 15 different options before selecting the existing route alignment and technology,” it wrote. A traditional aerial gondola funicular was ruled out because it would have had to pass through an active shooting range. “The Stoos funicular is designed with an inclination adjustment system.  This means that the four 34-passenger rotating cabins on each train remain horizontally level throughout the journey. ”The Gelmerbahn funicular at Bern was previously the world’s steepest, with a maximum gradient of 106%. The East Cliff Lift funicular railway in Hastings, built in 1902, is the steepest in England, with a gradient of 78%.