Funicular railways are cable-based train lines that shuttle carriages up steep inclines, and they don’t come any steeper than the Stoosbahn that has just opened in Switzerland. Connecting the mountain village of Stoos to the valley below, it is the steepest railway of its kind and the train that travels on it features self-tilting mechanisms to keep passengers upright as they travel up the hill.
The steepest funicular railway in the world entered service over the weekend, using 1,740 meters (1 mi) of track to carry passengers up a 47.73-degree incline. Steeper passenger railways do exist, such as the Scenic Railway in Australia’s Blue Mountains with 52-degree incline, but as far as funicular railways go – where a pair of trams use a cable to travel up and down and counter-balance each other as they go – the Stoosbahn is as steep as they come.
Each of those two cars can carry 136 passengers and is made up of four circular pods. When parked at either station, these pods sit horizontal, but thanks to an automatic leveling system they self-adjust to keep the passengers level as they head up the hill across a total altitude difference of 744 m (2,500 ft).
The cars travel at a maximum speed of 10 meters per second (22 mph) and take four minutes to ferry passengers up the hill. That trip, which starts at an altitude of 562 m and ends at 1,306 m, includes traveling through three tunnels and across more than 500 m (1,640 ft) of bridge.
World’s steepest funicular railway starts chugging up Swiss mountainside [New Atlas]