The funiculars of Genova

Liguria, Italy

Text and photos by Michel AZEMA ... September 1996
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Funicolare Principe - Granarolo (1)

That September morning, when I decided to visit the Funicolare Principe - Granarolo I had no idea at all about it. I look at the map of Genova to verify where is located the funicular station at the Piazza B. Principe, just near the central FS station Genova - Principe and the Metro.
The photo shows the FS station Genova-Principe and above it the big building is the rests of the old palace Albergo Miramare, which was smart and beautiful but which is now abandoned.
Just between the station and the palace is the lower station of the Funicolare Principe - Granarolo (see letter A)!
This is the lower station of the Funicolare Principe - Granarolo. First surprise, the name of the railway on the station: Ferrovia Principe - Granarolo!
When I arrived at the station there was no cabin. Next surprise, between the rails a Riggenbach cog!...
Well, a central cog is not unusual on funicular railways. Last century it was used as a brake to control the speed of the descending car.
But the only way to recognize a funicular track is the cable. There was no cable... well, if the cabin is not at the lower station this is normal. But even if the cable is not there the pulleys must be there! No pulley!! I realized that the funicular Principe - Granarolo was a real cog wheel railway!!!...
I have to wait until the arrival of the car...
Is it possible to conceive a simpler end station?!
After few minutes the cabin finally arrived!
Try to understand what I felt when I saw the car... It was a real "coup de coeur". A cog wheel tramway at the same state as it was at the beginning of the century!

But now I had a question in my mind:
Why this cog-wheel tramway is officialy called FUNICULAR ???
Everywhere AMT calls it Funicular, on the Web, on touristic maps, on AMT timetable. Sometimes there is a confusion between cog-wheel train and funicular, but AMT is managing two other real funiculars and 10 lifts. It was impossible that AMT could have made this kind of confusion.
So, certainly there is a reason... and immediatly I thought that the tramway was may be a funicular at the beginning and it was transformed in cog-wheel tramway whithout changing the name. This is not unusual. There are many exemples of funicular transformed into a cog-wheel train: Ouchy-Lausanne, Dolderbahn, Rheineck-Walzenhausen, Lyon-St Just, Lyon-Croix Pacquet, etc...

Granarolo page 2

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Copyright © 1996 by Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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