FUNICULAR



A funicular uses the technology of an elevator, it have a cable pulling a car up and the technology of a railroad, a car on a track. Created in the 15th century as a way of getting people and things up steep hillsides, the funicular now is more likely to carry skiers to the top of a mountain. In the United States, they are often referred to as incline railways. The common trains could never travel up such a steep incline because the steel train wheels don't have enough traction against steel rails. Trains that do climb mountains go up tracks that spiral around the mountain or go through many switchbacks.


The Funicular works of the following way. First, the car is pulled up the mountain by a cable. The wheels just guide the car up the mountain. They don't provide any of the pulling power. But the true genius of the funicular is that it uses two cars at the same time, one on each side of the top pulley. At any one time one car is balancing the weight of the other. The descending car's weight helps pull the ascending car up the mountain, and the ascending train keeps the speed of the descending train from going out of control. There is still a motor powering the pulley but it only has to provide enough force to overcome the difference in weight between the two cars (the weight of the passengers) and to overcome the friction in the system. Building a funicular is absolutely a feat because a track has to be laid either on steep mountain or on a trestle that rises from the side of the mountain.