World’s steepest funicular opens in Alps

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Schwyz-Stoos funicular is a triumph of Swiss engineering

The world’s steepest funicular rail line has opened in Switzerland at a cost of €44.6 million, pushing Swiss engineering and technology to new heights.

The Schwyz-Stoos funicular which went into public service yesterday, has a level-adjusting function that allows the futuristic carriages to stay horizontal while climbing at a rate of 10 metres a second.

Starting from a station in a valley near Schwyz, east of Lucerne, it ascends to the resort of Stoos, which is 1,300 metres above sea level. Then the beer-barrel-like train climbs 743 metres over the 1,720 metre track, along gradients as steep as 110% (47.7º).

The funicular replaces an older one that had operated since 1933 and comes after 14 years of planning and building.

Even after construction started in mid-2013, the project faced repeated delays. Designers analysed 15 different options before selecting the existing route alignment and technology.

Previously, the world’s steepest funicular was the Gelmerbahn in Bern, with a maximum gradient of 106%.

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