Pilatus Railway in Switzerland

World’s steepest railway back in business with new rolling stock

The old rolling stock was built in the 1930s. Shutterstock

Stadler and local Swiss operator Pilatus Bahnen have marked the start of operations of new rolling stock on the Pilatus Railway, the steepest rack railway for passengers in the world, near the city of Lucerne. Manufacturer Stadler has delivered new rack-and-pinion multiple units.

The 4.6-kilometre Pilatus Railway is a 130-year-old line in the Swiss mountains. It has an average gradient of 35 per cent, necessitating purpose-built rolling stock. The steepest section of the cogwheel Pilatus railway has a gradient of no less than 48 per cent. The line takes passengers on a scenic route to Mount Pilatus, also known as the dragon mountain, and terminates at the Pilarus Kulm hotel at 2,132 metres above sea level. During the ride, the train ascends 1,635 metres.

Stadler has provided rail cars in double traction as a replacement for the rolling stock from 1937. The cars can carry up to 46 passengers each. The units travel at a speed up 15 kilometres per hour, while the descent happens at speeds between 8 and 12 kilometres per hour.

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Author: Nick Augusteijn

Chief Editor, RailTech.com

1 comment op “World’s steepest railway back in business with new rolling stock”

Colin Lambert|08.06.23|16:59

It may be only just over 250 m long but there is a water powered funicular railway in Devon, England, which has an incline of 58%! The Lynton and Lynmouth, Railway rises 152.4 m. in height from sea level over 262.7 m in distance. It isn’t a rack system, relying instead on two sets of ropes and four sets of brakes, two of which are water-powered hydraulic.

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