World’s steepest funicular rail line to open in Switzerland

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The Schwyz-Stoos funicular in the Alpine resort of Stoos. Photograph: Urs Flueeler/EPA

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.

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-meter track, climbing or descending 743 meters along gradients as steep as 110% (47.7º).

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 The funicular. Photograph: Urs Flueeler/EPA

It will run from the valley station near Schwyz into the mountain village of Stoos, population 100, about 30 miles (50km) south of Zurich.

“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.”

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The world’s steepest railway

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%.

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