In less than four months, one of the world’s steepest funiculars is scheduled to open for passenger service. The system, known as the Schwyz-Stoos Funicular (German: Standseilbahn Schwyz–Stoos), is located in Switzerland and will operate at a maximum gradient of 110%/47.7° during its journey between Schwyz and the ski resort / tourist village of Stoos.
The new 1,740m funicular has a height difference of 743m and was built to replace an older funicular system which has been operational since 1933.
Prior to breaking ground, the planning and implementation of this funicular had to overcome a number of challenges. Designers analyzed fifteen different options before selecting the existing route alignment and technology. At the onset of the project, a 3S gondola was explored but was abandoned as it faced two major problems: 1) an aerial gondola would travel through an active shooting range; and 2) residents felt an emotional attachment to a rail based cable system.
Project proponents also concluded that the modernization of the older funicular system was not possible as this option would cause financial losses to the operator and would have halted transit service for the 150 residents of Stoos. Since locals live in a car-free town where vehicular access is limited, any shutdown would cause a huge inconvenience.
To meet modern regulations, engineers at Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group had to rethink and redesign the funicular to ensure level passenger access. Unlike many standard funiculars where station platforms are designed on a set of stairs with graded vehicle compartments, 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.
Construction of the new funicular began in July 2013 but faced several delays resulting from the collapse of a materials cableway and difficulties associated with tunnel drilling. Nevertheless, tracks were finally laid in April 2017 while the system is scheduled to open on December 17, 2017. As seen in the video above, the funicular successfully passed a “tilt form test” in early August.
The new system ensures 100% accessibility for all users and travels at a maximum speed of 10m/s. Project proponents hope that improved system performance and vehicular aesthetics will help boost tourism and enhance transport for both visitors and residents alike.
|Trip time (minutes)||3-5|