Schwyz Stoos Funicular



World’s Steepest Funicular Opens for Passenger Service in Stoos

Schywz-Stoos Funicular. Image by Pakeha.

We first found out about the Schywz-Stoos Funicular (German: Standseilbahn Schwyz–Stoos) five years ago when we went to visit friends in the small Swiss village of Stoos. After construction kicked off in July 2013, the long-awaited ropeway project has finally come to a completion.

The world’s steepest funicular has a route length of 1,704m and climbs a jaw-dropping maximum gradient of 110%/47.7°. For the technologists reading this post, it might be important to note that the Katoomba Scenic Railway is actually steeper with a 128% slope. However, some consider it an inclined elevator/railway as it does not have two counterbalanced vehicles that is found on funiculars.

Bottom station. Image by Pakeha.

Top station. Image by Pakeha.

Technical note aside, the Schywz-Stoos funicular is an incredible feat of engineering no matter how one might look at it. Built by Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, the system can travel at speeds of 10 m/s and transport 1,500 persons per hour per direction. Starting at Schlattli (562m), the system travels to Stoos (1306m) in just 3-5 minutes.

The most fascinating feature, of course, is the eight futuristic 34-passenger cylindrical cabins (four cabins on two trains). The vehicles were designed to remain horizontal throughout the entire journey.

Funicular travelling up towards Stoos. Image by Pakeha.

Unlike standard funiculars which have graded vehicle compartments built alongside a set of stairs for boarding/alighting, this new funicular has an inclination adjustment system. This means passenger loading is completely level, helping ease access and comfort for passengers of all mobility levels. At the front of each train, a rotating platform has also been built to allow for freight delivery. Clear separation of passenger cabins and freight delivery will improve rider comfort.

While the funicular is primarily a recreational system for transporting visitors from Schywz to the tourist village / ski resort at Stoos, the new system doubles as a public transit line for the 150 locals living at the top. This is important as Stoos is a car-free town with restrictions on vehicular access.

The US$52 million (CHF 52 million) project was financed with funding from the federal government, canton, district and municipality (54%), capital shares (6%), and debt (40%). The final project price was a 17% increase from initial cost estimates due to stricter technical regulations, added civil infrastructure and longer construction time.

To celebrate this momentum occasion, locals in the region were offered free passes on Saturday while the public were offered discount prices on Sunday. For those who can’t visit the system in person, fear not, readers can now ride vicariously through YouTube on the many videos uploaded online. Enjoy! 🙂

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Schwyz Stoos Funicular Set to Open in December

Schwyz Stoos Funicular. Screenshot from YouTube.

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.

Funicular will have height difference of 743m. Image from

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.

Funicular provides level boarding thereby allowing easier access for all users. Screenshot from YouTube.

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.

Year 2017
Length (km) 1.74
Capacity (pphpd) 1,500
Speed (m/s) 10
Trip time (minutes) 3-5
Engine (hp) 1,360

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.