The Hohenwerfen Castle Funicular

Post by Julia

This is a guest post by Ross Edgar.

Hohenwerfen Castle. Photo by “Sir James”

There are few castles in Europe more iconic than Hohenwerfen Castle which stands imposingly over the town of Werfen, 40km (25 miles) south of Salzburg on the Austro-German border. The fortress dates back to 1075 but in more recent years featured in the 1968 film epic ‘Where Eagles Dare’ in which the castle played the part of ‘Schloss Adler’.

Despite its considerable history the fortress is home to an altogether more modern means of transport to provide access from the valley below. From the castle’s car park visitors board a modern funicular which carries passengers from the foot of the hill into the heart of the fortress itself.

Hohenwerfen Castle single track funicular. Photo by Ross Edgar.

However, this funicular is far from conventional. Firstly, the funicular system only features a single car rather than the more conventional two cars. This is most likely due to the relatively short distance covered by the funicular. In place of the second car which traditionally acts as a counterbalance for the first, a set of weights travel in the opposite direction below the funicular’s tracks.

But the most unconventional feature of the Hohenwerfen Castle funicular is that it functions in a manner similar to a hotel elevator. Passengers at either station can ‘call’ the funicular by means of a button located next to the entry door. Once aboard the funicular the passenger then chooses whether to go up or down through the use of a button within the car itself.

The result is that this funicular is totally independent of any input being required from the operator. Therefore staffing requirements are comparatively low when compared to other means of transit or even more traditional funiculars. What is more, being operated by the passengers themselves means that the funicular is able to respond immediately to the demands of the visitors to the fortress. Waiting times are therefore reduced and operating costs are cut as the funicular does not confirm to a rigid schedule.

Hohenwerfen Castle funicular station. Photo by Ross Edgar.

The potential application for such a unique cable system within an urban environment is compelling. Such a funicular would allow a local authority to connect two areas of a city at considerably different elevations without the costs associated with other forms of transport or even other cable systems. The automation of the system would reduce staffing requirements to a very basic level of supervision and the system would be much more cost effective compared to a system that operates continually regardless of passenger demand. Moreover, the use of larger cars or even the addition of a second car would increase capacity considerably.
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