The International Steam Pages

Cable Railways of the World

Some of the biggest challenges faced by railway builders through the years have been presented by hills and mountains. Splitting trains, multiple locomotives, tunnels, curves, even horseshoes and spirals are all commonplace in my book, sometimes it needs something a little more interesting... For some general coverage in Wikipedia, see a short list of relevant articles at the bottom of this page to get started there. These pages instead highlights outstanding currently open (and relatively recently closed) examples especially outside Europe and North America, particularly where reports exist on this website.

By and large there are three solutions for when the problem gets really serious, each one reflecting a more extreme need to climb, these are covered in these pages:

Home Reverses / Zig Zags
(20th Jul 2016)
Rack / Cog
(19th Nov 2016)
Cable Haulage
(5th May 2015)

I would like to thank James Waite for not only suggesting the creation of these pages but also doing a lot of the spade work both in the field and virtually. I would welcome further pictures to illustrate them.

Compared to railways with reverses and rack sections, this is a mammoth subject and certainly not an area I want to compete with other enthusiasts who have an established presence on the web. However, these naturally concentrate on passenger carrying 'funiculars' particularly in Europe.

Recent additions:

Great Orme Tramway (5th May 2015)

Trenak, Examples of funiculars through Europe (24th October 2013)

Mark How's Briitish Funicular and Cable Railways (20th February 2010)

Bruse's funiculars (20th February 2010)

Thomas Kautzor's funiculars (16th December 2009)

Old incline at Naruja, Romania (16th December 2009)


Michel Azéma has done for funiculars what I have tried to do for steam power with his excellent Funimag pages:

Introduction -

Technical Information - (link dead by April 2015)

Specific Articles -

Mark Hows specialises in UK systems (20th February 2010):

British Funiculars (including cable winders for industrial systems - (Link broken by December 2021)

Bruse's funiculars - international (20th February 2010): 

Trenak, a Basque based website with examples of funiculars through Europe (24th October 2013) (domain dead by October 2017)

These Wikipedia links will provide more guidance for real and virtual travellers:

Wikipedia -

Wikipedia -

Beware! The Wikipedia list is less and less comprehensive the further one travels from Europe...

Some of the following Funimag links were dead by April 2015.

The Americas:

List of major funiculars in South America -

List of other funiculars in South America -

Most of this is North America (boring!) - 

Africa - not much but...


Middle East (yes the link is correct!)


Rob's Funiculars:

Great Orme Tramway (5th May 2015)

Penang Hill Railway, Malaysia 2009 report (red),  2010 report and 2012 report (blue).

Hong Kong Peak Tramway 

James Waite's Funiculars


Castle Hill Funicular Budapest 

United Kingdom

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway 

Switzerland (added 30th August 2011)

The Le Châtelard funicular 

Thomas Kautzor's Funiculars

China (added 16th December 2009)

Qianwei temple funicular 

Philippines (added 16th December 2009)

Tagaytay(?) casino funicular 

Other Cable Railways

If you were to read the following article below, you might think you were reading about ancient history, whoever wrote the article and its subsequent editors must all have led a very sheltered background.

Wikipedia -

UK Cable Railways

See Mark How's site on British Funiculars which also covers this (20th February 2010)

Rob's Industrial Cable Railways  - this is a totally under-reported area, please email me your contributions!

My choices include cable railways which are nothing to do with hills, they are a valid solution to situations on the flat too!


They are everywhere here even well into the 21st century. 

600mm gauge coal tramways round Nanpiao, December 2003 (part) - ../china/trains/china219.htm

Narrow gauge extras in China, 2003 - 2009 - ../china/trains/china288.htm

Long March to Ma Miao, 2009 - ../china/trains/china274.htm


Cable Railways at Tipong Colliery, India, 2008 


There's nothing much flatter than the delivery yard of a sugar mill in Java, but where loaded cane wagons ('lori' locally) have to be moved a short distance from time to time, an old fashioned steam winch (this is Olean mill) is the perfect answer although most mills would use an electric motor these days:


The Covasna - Comandâu forestry railway had an inclined plane, which is part of a current preservation scheme. I visited it in 1998, just before normal working ceased and you can read my report.

Hans Hufnagel tells me (16th December 2009) that there are pictures of four other inclines covered in his Walder und Dampf book Part 2 - Gainesti (page 77), Busteni (page 108) and Curtea de Arges (page 115). Also there were many more in the former Austro-Hungarian empire, but all are history. This is a historical picture of the incline at Naruja:

United Kingdom

I do not have much current information but quite recently, there were small scale coal mines in the Forest of Dean using cable haulage on narrow gauge railways. Hopewell is best described as a 'working museum'. Freemining is an ancient right being based on birth within the traditional area of the FoD, something which is behind opposition to attempts to close the remaining maternity facilities in the area. See: (Link broken by 1st November 2018)

See for example these pages: - gives Hopewell location and opening hours (Link broken by 1st November 2018)

James Waite's Industrial Cable Railways


The Piacaguera - Paranapiacaba Incline at Work

United Kingdom

Some historic inclines

As always Wikipedia is some help in a specialist subject but when 'push comes to shove' you soon find gaps in the coverage, not to mention things which are downright wrong...  Worse still are the 'Look Alike' sites which lift material from Wikipedia in a bid to make money from advertisements and thereby foul up the search engines.

Some useful links are:

Hill Railways in General - (link corrected 26th April 2014)

Mountain Railways - 

Rack Railways - and - look for conflicts!

Reverses -

Funiculars -

There are many sub-links within these pages, some to specialist technical information, others to items on individual railways.

Rob Dickinson