Pilatus Railway, Switzerland, 1890s

Pilatus Railway, Switzerland, 1890s

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Credit: BILDAGENTUR-ONLINE/TH FOTO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Pilatus Railway. 19th-century artwork of the Alpnachstad terminus on the Pilatus Railway (Pilatusbahn), Switzerland. This railway, one of the steepest in the world, opened in 1889. The track covers 4.6 kilometres from Lake Lucerne (433 metres) to the summit of Mount Pilatus (2128 metres). It is a cogwheel railway, with a central toothed third rail. Cog wheels on the train latch on to this central rail and pull the train forward. The steepness required track engineer Eduard Locher to design a double-sided toothed rail. Steam engines were used on the ascent (replaced by overhead electrification in 1937), and steam brakes on the descent.

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