The new funicular of Orvieto

Umbria, Italy

Text and photos by Michel AZEMA ... September 1996
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Orvieto, famous Etrusque city of Umbria, is a big touristic center located between Firenze and Roma.

The great FS line Firenze - Roma passes just at the bottom of the city which is on a volcanic rock at 157 meters above the valley.
In 1888 a funicular was built to connect the main train station and the city. This water-ballast counter-balanced funicular was used till 1970.
The line was design to pass through the rampart which surrounds the city.
So, during 20 years there was no more funicular in Orvieto.
The 16th June 1990, the new funicular was built with a new technology. Design to be completely automatic, it was the fastest automatic funicular in Italy (6 meters per second) without any machinist inside the cabins, only one controller in the upper station to control the computers.

The normal frequency of the Orvieto funicular is one departure every 15 minutes but this frequency is not sufficient when arrives a train, from Firenze or Roma, which can deposit hundred of tourists each time. The traffic must be increased and very flexible to support the arrivals of the frequent trains, so special departures are initiated when there are more than 20 passengers waiting at the stations.

The new funicular with the new station just in front of the FS train station.
Note the great number of tourists just arrived from the FS train station and waiting for the funicular!
At the top of the photo: the ramparts of Orvieto, the funicular passes just under it.

The same vue at the beginning of the century.

A cabin at the lower station.

A cabin at the lower station waiting for the automatic departure without any conductor. The small gates are closed before the departure.

The siding. Note the presence of two cables (tracting and stretching).

A cabin passes just above the automobile road to the Orvieto city.

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Copyright © 1996 by Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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