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A WONDERFUL RAILWAY.
THE MOUNT PILATUS IN SWITZERLAND. [By C. F. Dewey, in The N.S.W. Railway and Tramway Magazine.] Switzerland is generally known as the "Playground of Europe," and as such is provided with innumerable tourist resorts and facilities. Of the latter the moun- tain railways will be of most interest to us, and the writer will therefore attempt to give a brief interesting description of the Mount Pilatus line— the steepest rail- way in the world. Mount Pilatus is one of the most rugged of Swiss mountains, and rises to an altitude of 5,344 ft. From its summit an immense panorama of magnificent alpine scenery is visible to, the eye ; but the climb by foot was very tedious, and necessitated hours of dangerous work, consequently the top was attained only by a very few. Hence it was that in 1872 two Swiss gentlemen, Col. E. Locher and Mr. E. G. Freuler, con- ceived the brilliant idea that the summit could be reached by a railway. Upon them making the details public, however, they were gene- rally conceded to be mad, and the whole project was condemned from begin- ning to end. Although publicly ridiculed, the promoters were not deterred, and in 1887 construction was commenced, accord- ing to their plans and specifications. The idea was to make as far as possible a direct line to the summit; ravines to be built over ; precipices to be tunnelled through ; in so solid a way as to rigidly withstand the abnormal weather conditions prevailing in these alpine regions. The line was to be nearly three miles Iong, and in this dis- tance a difference of 5,344 ft. in elevation was to be overcome. —A Cost of £25,000 Per Mile.—
The whole work of construction occupied a period of 400 working days, and cost al- together £76,000, or a little over £2o,000 per mile, which for a line built under such extraordinary circumstances was not at all exceusive. A gauge of 2 ft. 7½ in. was aaopted, and on account of the nature of the ground, and the grades over which it passes, a very strong permanent way was constructed. The bridges are substantially wrought in masonry, and both rack and running rails are well braced together, and secured to tne rock underneath. The rack rail wihich is toothed on both ite side faces is placed centrally between the running rails, but at a higher level, and for the use of rangers and fettlers a footway extends alongside the track in the most inaccessible places. The grades on the railway are terrific, the lowest rise being 1 in 5.2, the mean grade is 1 in 2.8. and the stiffest bank is 48 in 100, or approximating 1 in 2; and on account of this steepness a special type of steam car had to be constructed, the car and engine are combined, and the boiler is placed transversely, that as, across the rails — this to rectify, any difference in water levels that may take place when passing over the various bands. The seats of the car are arranged one above the other in the form of steps, and the engine's water tank is placed beneath the floor of the car, and is supported by the frames. The braking arrancements are of an elabo- rate nature, consisting of an air compres- sion brake while running down, and a trac- tional brake on the crank shaft : there are also various other automatic brakes which come into action immediately the speed exceeds a certain limit fixed. It may be noted here that the Swiss Federal authori- ties are very exacting in enforcing speed re- gulations on lines such as this. The car complete weighs approximately 12 tons, and the speed at which it travels in either direction is about 227 ft. per minute while a journey up or down occupies about 66 minutes. These cars were built at the Swiss Locomotive Works at Winterthur. The lower terminus of the line is located at Alpanach-Stad, on the south-western corner of Lake Lucerne, and from there it pushes itself almost at the perpendicular up and around the mountain. The line is under the control of the Swiss Federal Railways, and is mainly for tourist pur- poses. An hotel is situated at the upper station for the accommodation of visitors.