Vertigo suffers, don’t look down – the world’s steepest funicular railway has opened in Switzerland, taking locals up mountains at gradients of an eyewatering 110%.
The incredible feat of engineering took 14 years to complete – but it’s far from the only hair-raising funicular you can visit.
Funicular railways climb gradients on hills and mountain ranges, and are particularly necessary for mountainous communities. But they’re also found in towns and cities across the world – and if you like your public transport experiences to be as exhilarating as possible, these rides will certainly put the ‘fun’ in funicular.
Here are 7 of the world’s best funicular railways:
1. Peak Tram, Hong Kong
Hong Kong looked rather different when the Peak Tramway first opened in 1888. Back then, the steam-powered railway carried British residents 1.4km up the green hills to Victoria Peak.
Today, that same spot provides the best views of the jaw-dropping skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island, making this funicular one of the most popular in the world with tourists.
2. Central Funicular, Italy
One of the world’s busiest funiculars, the Funicolare Centrale is a central route in Naples’ public transport network. It covers 4,000ft, making it one of the largest in Europe, and is one of four funiculars in the bustling city.
Built in 1928, it’s survived better than some – the picturesque Vesuvius funicular nearby was destroyed when its neighbour volcano erupted in 1944.
3. Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, USA
The industrial city of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania once had a network of funicular railways transporting workers and goods between the city and its many coal mines. Today, two remain – the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines – and both attract tourists in their droves.
The Duquesne has been restored and includes a museum at its peak, along with the best possible view of America’s Steel City.
4. Schwebebahn, Germany
If dangling off the side of a railway track as it travels up a hill is your idea of a morning commute, then Dresden might be the city for you.
Connecting two districts on the outskirts of the German city, this one-of-a-kind funicular features carriages mounted to the side of the cable track. It also provides glorious views of the River Elbe and the countryside surrounding the historic city.
5. Flying Dutchman, South Africa
The only commercial funicular of its kind in Africa, this railway takes travellers up the stunning South African coastline, arriving at the Cape Point lighthouse. Named after the legend of the ghostly Flying Dutchman ship, which is said to stalk the waters below, this railway should feature on the itinerary of any trip to Cape Town.
6. Niesenbahn Funicular, Switzerland
No one beats the Swiss for funicular railways; the Niesenbahn in Bern is one of many of their incredible inclines. A 3.5km journey you’ll wish could last longer, this line provides truly breath-taking sights of the spectacular Swiss mountains.
If you don’t fancy the journey, you can just take the stairs – the longest staircase in the world, at 11,674 steps, runs alongside the track.
7. CairnGorm Mountain Railway, Scotland
There’s plenty of funiculars to ride in Britain, with some especially picturesque peaks in Bridgnorth and Hastings, but the UK’s most spectacular is surely the railway which traverses the jaw-dropping Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands.
Rising 3,500ft, it offers views of the area’s colourful heather-filled hills, which are usually blanketed with snow. So, if you’re visiting the Cairngorms to ski this winter, be sure to plan a ride.