The last funiculars of Montafon

Voralberg, Austria

Text and photos by Michel AZEMA
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The Austrian province of Voralberg is surrounded by Bavaria (Deutschland), Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Tyrol (Austria).
In the south of this province, the Montafon is a valley where the Ill river flows. The Ill river is issued from the glacier thaw on the Silvretta massif (the highest point is the Piz Buin 3312 m).
The water of the Ill river basin exploited by the company Voralberger Illwerke AG.

The water is concentrated into artificial lakes: Lunersee, Silvrettasee, Vermuntsee and Kopssee. From these dams two big pressure pipelines (Golmer and Vermunt) bring the water to the two hydroelectric power stations (Latschau and Partenen).
Quite often the pressure pipelines were built with the assistance of an incline railway. The incline railway is installed first and the pipeline is built along the tracks. After the construction of the pressure pipeline, the incline is used for the maintenance.
Usually this kind of incline railways are always spectacular because the pressure pipelines need a very steep slope. Most of the steepest funiculars are pressure pipeline incline railways like the two Swiss funiculars Chatelard-Emosson (87%) and Piotta-Ritom (88%).

The two pressure pipelines of the two hydroelectric power stations Latschau and Partenen were built with the respective funiculars:
The Vermuntbahn was dismantled in 1994 and the Golmerbahn in 1995.

The pictures of these articles were taken during a visit I made in September 1994. The Vermuntbahn was quite completly dismantled but the Golmerbahn was still in used.
In 1995, I wrote an article into the french magazine "Voie Etroite" N° 146, the title was "Les funiculaires du Montafon" . The FUNIMAG articles are a Web version of this article.



To visit the Montafon, from Zürich take the direct trains to Innsbruck, via Sargans, Buchs (Switzerland), Feldkirch (Austria). At Bludenz you must take another train, the Montafonerbahn, a small private company, onto the 13 km between Bludenz and Schruns. From Schruns you can go to Latschau or Partenen by regular postal buses.

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Copyright © 1996 by Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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