funicular railway - world record set by Angels Flight
LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA -- The downtown
LA landmark and railway oddity known as Angels Flight reopened
after being out of service for nine years and resumed trips
up and down Bunker Hill , setting the world record for the
Angels Flight opened to help commuters negotiate
the steep hillside in 1901 and was rebuilt in 1996 after a
Shortest funicular railway climbs a 33-percent incline
and both cars share a common middle rail, except in the middle
of the route where they pass as one ascends and the other
In Feb. 2001 a rail car rolled down hill
and crashed into another car, killing an 83-year-old New Jersey
man and injuring seven other people. It has not operated since.
The investigation faulted the modern operating
mechanism that had replaced the original. It found that a
gear failed and caused a cable that raised and lowered the
car to come off its spool. In addition, an emergency brake
on that mechanism wasn't working and there were no emergency
brakes on the cars.
Federal investigators also concluded there
was poor oversight of the railway. The Angels Flight Railway Foundation,
whose members include historic preservationists and downtown
boosters, spent years raising about $3.5 million to repair
and upgrade the railway. John Welborne from the nonprofit
group that now runs the funicular says the Public Utilities
Commission has declared it safe and gave the green light to
The redesigned mechanism is much like the
original, with both cars counterbalancing each other at opposite
ends of the same cable. Each car now has a second safety cable,
and there are four types of brake systems and collision avoidance
technology similar to positive train control.
The system relies on sensors on the track
to determine the cars' location and when they are allowed
to safely move. Other updates include entrance gates that
automatically open and close.
The cars may still be classic wood, but
underneath, they're equipped with state-of-the-art braking
systems and a collision avoidance system that should make
a repeat of the 2001 accident impossible.
Flight is a funicular railway, which is a cabled railway
consisting of two cars that move simultaneously in opposite
directions, counterbalancing each other, usually up a steep
hill--so while one is at the top of the slope, the other is
at the bottom, and they pass in the middle.
The fare is now a quarter, and the
cars will operate seven days a week from 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Guinness world record for the
the steepest funicular railway is the Johnstown Inclined Plane
in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at an incline of 70.9%.