Mini Swiss Railway Climbs Steepest Hill Yet

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December 17, 2017

The world's steepest funicular railway has opened in Switzerland. The railway is at the Alpine resort of Stoos, and the carriages have been specially designed so that passengers stay upright during the 110-percent-gradient climb.

Stoos Bahn funicularA funicular is a cable railway that moves by way of a cable attached to cars that go up and down a very steep slope. Many such railways are on cliffs and are also called cliff railways or inclined plane railways.

The overall upward climb of the Stoos Bahn, from the town of Schwyz to the village of Stoos, is 110 meters (360 feet), spread over a horizontal distance of 1,720 meters (just more than a mile). Stoos is 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above sea level.

The carriages look like barrels. They tilt on the way up and down, so that the people riding don't have to; each one-way journey lasts four minutes, as the train reaches a top speed of 10 meters (32 feet) a second.

The 14-year project cost 52 million Swiss francs, or $53 million. The railway replaces an older one that had been running since 1933.

The Swiss Bahn is now the funicular with the highest gradient in the world. That title had been held also by a Swiss railway, the Gelmerbahn in Bern.

The oldest funicular is thought to be Austria Reisszug, dating to 1515. Such railways are found on nearly every continent. Large numbers can be found in Austria, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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