Dorfbahn Serfaus

Tyrol, Austria (First published in 1998)

The smallest subway in the world!



Unbelievable but true, since 1985 the small alpine village of Serfaus (Tyrol) conceals a real subway. In fact it is the smallest subway in the world and this subway is an air cushion cable subway!.. and it is free!!!

The small village, located on an alpine pasture above the Inn river, became a winter sports resort in the thirties with the beautiful snowfields of Komperdell.

In the seventies the council decided to transform Serfaus in a pedestrian village. A large parking was build at the entrance of the village and the skiers must have to get on buses to reach the ski lifts at the other end of the village.

General view of the Serfaus village and its main street.

General view of the Serfaus village and its main street.
Difficult to imagine that just under this street operates a real subway!!
The name of the main street: Dorfbahnstrasse.

On the main street of Serfaus

On the main street of Serfaus, Dorfbahnstrasse, you can still see some traditional cow sheds (étable) like this one with the also traditional dunghill (tas de fumier).
On the door are fixed many agricultural show awards.
Above the door are fixed two cow decorations.
Just less than 2 meters under this cow shed runs the automatic air cushion cable subway!



The Tyrol province. Note that the area of Lienz (East-Tyrol) is separated from the area of Innsbruck since the end of the World War I and the treaty of Saint-Germain (1919). The South-Tyrol has been attached to Italy.





The Dorfbahn required the contruction of an underground gallery (3,24 m width and 3,52 m high) all along the 1300 meters of the main street (Dorfbahnstraße) of Serfaus.
The construction went on all the year 1985.


The construction of the gallery in May 1985. (Photo from the Seilbahn Komperdell booklet)


At the entrance of the village this notice board invites the motorists to leave their cars at the parking and freely use the Dorfbahn.


Station Parkplatz

The entrance of Serfaus.
On the right the main street (Dorfbahnstraße) and below the street you can see the entrance of the Dorfbahn subway.
I visited Serfaus on 16th September 1998. The cars were authorized to get around in the village. The subway was working only between 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

Station Parkplatz


Station Parkplatz. The entrance of the subway just below the main street.


Station Kirche (Church), the first stop after 500 meters from the station Parkplatz.

Station Kirche.


Station Raika

A very discreet station. So much discreet that I had to pass three times beside it before to notice it!
It is not the entrance of the bank!!!

Station Raika


Station Seilbahn

The end station of the Dorfbahn subway. The exit is the first opening on the white wall after the small grove.
The big white building is the station of the aerial tramway to Kölner. The small white building on the left is the departure of the gondolas. All these aerial cable lifts are managed by Seilbahn Komperdell Serfaus.
Note the small white dome on the right of the photo, it is a ventilation shaft and it also lights the engine room of the Dorfbahn which is just below the dome.

Station Seilbahn


Map of the Dorfbahn tunnel with the 4 stations: Parkplatz, Kirche, Raika and Seilbahn.
( Lüftungsschacht = ventilation shaft )

(Drawing from the Seilbahn Komperdell booklet.)


Vertical profile of the Dorfbahn tunnel
( Length: 1280 m, difference of levels: 20,10 m, maximum gradient: 5,35 % )

(Drawing from the Seilbahn Komperdell booklet.)



The tunnel

All along the 1300 meters of the Dorfbahnstraße was built this underground gallery (3,24 meters width and 3,52 meters high).
You immediately remark that there is no usual rail for the guidance of the train; but on the floor you can see two dark parallel trails (A and B). They are the trails of the air cushions of the cabin.
C is the rail for the guidance of the cabin with a reversed L section.

The tunnel


The Raika Station from the inside of the tunnel.
The cabin automatically stops in front of the doors of the station. Each door in front of a door of the cabin.
D is the tractor cable and E is the tensor cable.

Raika Station


The tunnel at the Station Seilbahn.
You can see the doors of the terminus station on the right of the photo.

Station Seilbahn


Station Seilbahn
The cabin stopped at the terminus of the station Seilbahn.
The cabin is equipped with two emergency exit doors on the front and the back of the cabin. The passengers use the doors which are on the side of the cabin.

Station Seilbahn


Station Seilbahn
The same view as above but with a wider angle and you can see that the tunnel is used as a stockroom!
In fact it is the terminus and the cabin does not go closer.

Station Seilbahn


Section of the tunnel with the cabin.
Luftkissen = air cushion
Führungrollen = rollers for the guidance
Seilanhängung = the arm which fixes the cabin to the cable.
Zugseilführung = roller for the tractor cable.
Rücklaufseilführung = roller for the tensor cable.
Stromabnehmer = contactor for the electricity.

Section of the tunnel with the cabin (Drawing from the Seilbahn Komperdell booklet)



The cabin

One of the main characteristics of the Dorfbahn is that the cabin leans on multiple air cushions.
On this photo taken at the delivery of a cabin down to the gallery, you can see the different air cushions.
The Dorfbahn subway is composed of one train of one or two cabins.

Drawing of the OTIS air cushions (Photo from the Seilbahn Komperdell booklet)


Inside of a cabin.
The comfort and the decoration are a little bit simple or... Spartan!
Remember that the Dorfbahn was built to transport skiers with their equipment.

Inside of a cabin


A cabin at Station Parkplatz.
Above each door the letters show where is the cabin and the green arrow shows the direction of the cabin.

At Station Parkplatz


Station Seilbahn
On the left, the stairs to the exit, the surface and the ski lifts.
On the right wall, the doors to access at the cabin.
At the end of the corridor if the engine room and the control room.

At Station Seilbahn


The cabin at the station Seilbahn ready for the departure to the Parking at the other end of Serfaus.

At Station Seilbahn


Station Parkplatz
Next departure in 7 minutes.
In fact it was 1:30 pm when I took the photo! ;-)

At Station Parkplatz




Station Seilbahn
The bottom station of the aerial tramway to Kölner.
The white dome in the center of the parking place is a ventilation shaft and also lights the Dorfbahn engine room which is just under the dome.

Station Seilbahn


The engine room at Station Seilbahn.
Very classical funicular engine room with on the foregroung, from left to right, two big yellow pulleys with disk brakes, the reduction gear and the engine on the right (outside the photo).
On the background, from left to right, the entrance of the tunnel and the red control room.

The engine room at Station Seilbahn


The control room with the multiple videos.
In fact it was 12:00 am when I took this photo. ;-)

The control room




Updated April 24, 2017

20 April 2017 marks the beginning of Phase 1 of the modernization of Dorfbahn, the small cable and cushion subway, in the village of Serfaus.

The new metro will consist of a new three-car train for a total capacity of 400 passengers and an hourly flow of 3,000 passengers.
The speed will always be 9 meters / second and a reduced journey time to 9 minutes.

See more informations on this page...










Videos of the first Dorfbahn Serfaus (1985-2017)



Technical Datas
  1985-2017 since 2017
Start 14 Dec 1985 October 2017
End 20 April 2017 ----
Type of funicular typfuni7 typfuni7
Type of tracks
Length 1280m 1280m
Diff. of levels 20.10m 20.10m
Max. Gradient 5.35% 5.35%
Time 9' 9'
Speed 11m/s 11m/s
Cabin 1 train of 2 cabins 1 train of 3 cabins
Capacity 270 passengers 400 passengers
Traffic 1500 pass/hour 3000 pass/hour
Manufacturer Funicular Wagner Biro Wien Leitner
Manufacturer electronic Freissler-OTIS, Wien  
Manufacturer Cabin Swoboda, Oberweis  


Company Informations
Serfaus - Fiss - Ladis
Gänsackerweg 2
A-6534 Serfaus
Fax: +41 (0)41 618 80 48



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# Funimag 13 #

Dorfbahn Serfaus

The funiculars of Kolbnitz

Game 13