The Niesenbahn – Mülenen, Switzerland - Atlas Obscura

The Niesenbahn

Mülenen, Switzerland

Traversing steep Alpine slopes, this engineering marvel is one of the longest and highest funiculars in the world. 


With a track measuring a total length of 3,500 meters (11,483 feet) and completing an overall elevation change of 1,642 meters (5,387 feet), the Niesenbahn is — per static as well as subjective visual analysis — one of the world’s most astounding and extreme funicular trains. This engineering marvel is rendered even more incredible by the fact its construction predates cranes and helicopters.

Construction on the Niesenbahn began in 1906, and the line officially opened in 1910. Composed of two sections separated by an intermediate station (the only other station on the line aside from the two terminals), the Niesenbahn carries passengers from the Mülenen train station to the looming peak of the nearby Niesen mountain. The upper station sits at an elevation of 2,336 meters (7,664 feet) above sea level. To reach that summit, the tracks proceed along severe and dizzying inclines, reaching a maximum gradient of 68%.

The cars can accommodate a maximum of 65 passengers and take approximately 30 minutes to complete the entire journey. More adventurous sightseers are given the option of hiking between any of the two stations, either on the way up or the way down. Less adventurous sightseers can rest assured that the cable supporting the Niesenbahn funicular is engineered to carry over eight times the train’s total weight load, and that the cars are outfitted with automatic brakes.

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