Posts Tagged: Obermatt



Zingel Seilbahn: The water ballast tram

Preparing for take off!

The Obermatt – Unter Zingel Seilbahn in Switzerland is a cool old aerial tram that is powered, well, by gravity. Built in 1923 by Remigi Niederberger, the system still functions today. It is one of the last remaining water ballast tram systems.

The ropeway consists of two open-air “cabins” that have a spot to sit and a tank for water, cleverly built into the back of the seat. To hoist a person up from the bottom station, the tank at the top is filled with water and the weight of this water ballast is enough to counter balance the lower cabin (up to 100 kg) and run it up the mountain.

The system is simple, cheap, and surprisingly fast. (In fact the seilbahn can reach 45 km/h, which is the speed of any present day aerial tram.) There is no motor or no modern communication system. The operator at the top slows the cabin with a manually operated drum brake.

This video below beautifully illustrates how the Zingel Seilbahn works. [link]

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