Centrale électrique du Châtelot

Text and photos by Michel Azéma

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SFMC - Société des Forces Motrices du Châtelot

This private incline is completly unknown but I think it is one of the most interesting and impressive incline railway I have ever seen and it is also the steepest incline of Switzerlant with a maximum of 100 % gradient.

Many thanks to Mr Monnier (ENSA) for his precious help.

Michel AZEMA

Electricité Neuchâteloise S.A.


The Electricité Neuchâteloise S.A. (electricity company most part owned by the Neuchâtel Canton) and Electricité de France (EDF, the french national company) operate the power station of Le Châtelot since 1953.

The power station receives the water from the Châtelot Dam which is located some kilometers upstream on the Doubs river just after the famous waterfall "Le Saut du Doubs".

The produced electricity is sent to France (50%) and to Switzerland (50%).

 Le barrage du Châtelot (photo ENSA)

(photo Michel Azéma 1998)

  The hydroelectric power station of Le Châtelot is located into the Neuchâtel Canton at the North-West of La Chaud-de-Fond near the small hamlet of Les Planchettes.

 In this area the river Doubs is the border between France and Switzerland, the Centrale du Châtelot is on the Swiss bank of the river (right bank). At this point the Doubs river flows in a very deep and narrow gorge with very steep slopes. The only way to reach the river is a footpath.

So in 1950, when it was decided to built this power station, the only way to reach the river and transport the nessessary materials for the buildind was to install an incline railway from the plateau down to the river.

The incline was built in 1951 and all the materials and all the hydraulic turbines were taken down by the incline railway!


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Copyright 1998 by Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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