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  Thursday, April 1, 2010

  Shortest 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 Shortest funicular railway.

   Photo: Angel's Flight has been dubbed 'the shortest railway in the world,' and the train still features the original cars from 1901. (enlarge photo)

   Angels Flight opened to help commuters negotiate the steep hillside in 1901 and was rebuilt in 1996 after a late-1960s dismantling.

   The world's 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 descends.

    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 revival.

   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.

    Angels 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%.

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    Related world records:
    Largest Chevy Truck Parade - world record set by Heinrich Chevrolet

    Shortest scheduled flight-world record set by Loganair

   Most Advanced Horse-Drawn Carriage - world record set by Jeremy Dean

    Largest Ford Parade - world record set by Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa

   Thursday, April 1, 2010

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  Largest Chevy Truck Parade - Heinrich Chevrolet

        Fastest train - world record set by China

       Fastest road-legal diesel car-AC Schnitzer

            Shortest scheduled flight-Loganair