Looking down the Giessbachbahn, showing car and passing loop
Track length363 metres (1,191 ft)
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)
Maximum incline32%
Giessbachbahn car
Giessbachbahn car

The Giessbach Funicular (German: Giessbachbahn)[1] is a historic funicular in the Swiss canton of Bern and municipality of Brienz. It links a landing stage on Lake Brienz, served by shipping services on the lake, to the Grand Hotel Giessbach and Giessbach Falls above. The funicular is owned by the hotel, but since 1983 has been operated by a preservation foundation.[2][3][4]


The Giessbach funicular was designed by the Swiss engineer Carl Roman Abt. When it was opened in 1879, it was the first funicular with a two-rail single track layout with a relatively short passing loop in the middle.[1] Its turnouts had no moving parts, which was quite a remarkable achievement for the time. Abt had later developed its modification which became known as the Abt Switch.[1]

Originally the funicular was powered by water ballast, and the Riggenbach rack rail in the middle of the track was used for speed control. In 1912 the water ballast system was replaced by a hydraulic engine powered by a Pelton turbine. Which is in its own turn was replaced in 1948 by an electric drive. The rack rail is currently used for emergency braking. The funicular's two wooden cars are restored back to their original appearance in 1879.[1]

In 2015 the funicular was included in the list of Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers under number 259.[5]


The main characteristics of system are:[6]

Number of cars 2
Number of stops 2
Configuration Single track with passing loop
Track length 363 metres (1,191 ft)
Rise 98 metres (322 ft)
Maximum gradient 32%
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)
Speed 1.9 metres per second (6.2 ft/s)
Journey time 4 mins
Capacity 40 passengers per car; 480 persons in each direction per hour

See also


  1. ^ a b c d The Giessbach Funicular with the World’s First Abt Switch (PDF). The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 2015.
  2. ^ Green, Richard (February 2007). "Railways in the Berner Oberland - Part 3". Today's Railways Europe. Platform 5 Publishing Ltd (134).
  3. ^ (Map). Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  4. ^ "Die Giessbachbahn". Seilbahn-Nostalgie (in German). C. Gentil. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Landmarks". American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  6. ^ "61.019 Giessbachbahn, Giessbach, Standseilbahn". Swiss Inventory of Ropeways (in German). Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 2010-11-03.

Coordinates: 46°44′06″N 8°01′21″E / 46.7349°N 8.0225°E / 46.7349; 8.0225