Stans(Stanserhorn-Bahn) [Switzerland] Year 1893, length m 1550, maxslope 17
By Laurent Stalder (Rynacher at de.wikipedia) (Laurent Stalder (www.trainlgb.com)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Funiculars are cable railways with a couple of rail vehicles attached to each other by a cable, which runs through a pulley at the top of the slope. The energy need is minimized by the counterbalancing of the two cars, with one going up and one going down.
There are different possible rails configurations such as: two parallel straight tracks with four rails (with separate station platforms for each vehicle), two parallel straight tracks with three rails for the most part of the slope (with the middle rail shared by the 2 cars and four rails only at the by-pass section), two-rails configuration with flanged wheels cars that automatically follow different tracks in the intermediate crossing section.
Funiculars are generally characterized by fairly short tracks, with high vertical gradients and only 2 stations (stops) located at the top/botton of the slope.
The so called "gravity planes" (also known as self-acting inclines or brake inclines) are a particular kind of funiculars used in mines with the weight of descending loaded wagons used to pull the empty mine wagons.
The so called "inclined lift" (also known as inclined elevators or inclinators) are another particular kind of cable systems with only one car carrying payload on the slope. The car is either winched up to the station on the top of the incline where the cable is collected on a winch drum, or alternativly the single car is balanced by a counterweight and operated the same way as a funicular with two cars.
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