Mountain railway

A mountain railway is a railway that ascends and descends a mountain slope that has a steep grade. Such railways can use a number of different technologies to overcome the steepness of the grade. Mountain railways commonly have a narrow gauge to allow for tight curves in the track and reduce tunnel size and structure gauge, and hence construction cost and effort.

On steep grades the friction between the wheels and the rails cannot apply sufficient adhesion to the train's wheels so as to overcome gravity, and the train is in danger of sliding down the track. In practice this affects downhill braking capability before it affects uphill climbing ability, and some mountain railways at the lower end of the steepness spectrum rely on standard adhesion for propulsion, but use special track brakes acting directly on the rails.

Where the line is too steep to rely on adhesion for climbing, a rack railway may be used, in which a toothed cog wheel engages with a toothed rack rail laid between the tracks. A now little used alternative to the rack and pinion railway is the Fell system, in which traction and/or braking wheel are applied to a central rail under pressure.

Finally at the steepest end of the spectrum, a funicular railway may be used. Here a cable is used to haul counterbalanced trains up and down the track. The car itself is often custom built for the slope, with specially raked seating and steps rather than a sloped floor. Taken to its logical conclusion as the slope becomes vertical, a funicular becomes an elevator.


List of mountain railways

See also list of cog and rack railways











  • Lika line
  • Rijeka line




  • Berchtesgaden Mountain Railway
  • Drachenfels Railway (Drachenfelsbahn)
  • Harz Railway (Harzbahn)
    • Rübeland Railway (Rübelandbahn)
    • Harz Narrow Gauge Railways (Harzer Schmalspurbahnen)
      • Harz Railway (Harzquerbahn)
      • Brocken Railway (Brockenbahn)
      • Selke Valley Railway(Selketalbahn)
  • Murg Valley Railway (Murgtalbahn)
  • Schwarza Valley Railway (Schwarzatalbahn)
  • Wendelstein Railway (Wendelsteinbahn)
  • Bavarian Zugspitze Railway (Bayerische Zugspitzbahn)


Hong Kong


Isle of Man



New Zealand


  • Flåmsbana



View from Oraviţa - Anina railway in 2010.
Houses close to the Oraviţa - Anina railway.



Taiwan (Republic of China)

United Kingdom

United States


Mountain railways in fiction

The Culdee Fell Railway is featured in the book Mountain Engines, part of The Railway Series by Rev.W.Awdry.

See also


  1. ^ Described by the operator, Linz AG Linien In German
  2. ^ Se construye
  3. ^ Map of Huancayo - Huancavelica
  4. ^ Homepage of the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn (in English, German, French)
  5. ^ Waldenburgerbahn

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Snowdon Mountain Railway — Teilstrecke der Snowdonia Mountain Railway Die Snowdon Mountain Railway (walisisch Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa) ist die einzige Zahnradbahn in Großbritannien. Ihr Ausgangspunkt ist Llanberis im Norden von Wales. Die Bahn hat eine Spurweite von 800 mm.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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