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a cable-drawn, hoisting and conveying system for moving passengers and freight for short distances up steep grades. Funiculars are used in cities and resort centers as well as in mountainous regions. The use of the funicular as a form of passenger transport was first proposed in 1825, with the first installations opening in 1854 in Genoa, Italy, and Sommerein, Austria.
A funicular may be described as a hoist with cars that are connected by cable to a power-driven winch; the cars move between upper and lower stations along an inclined railway. The winch and its drive are usually located at the upper station. Carrying passengers, freight, or both, a funicular may use one car, which alternately ascends and descends, or, more often, two cars, which are fastened to opposite ends of a cable and move counter to each other, the weight of one counterbalancing that of the other.
Two-car funiculars have either a double track, with a separate path for each car, or a single track with a siding halfway up the run. Passenger cars are built so that the floor remains nearly horizontal regardless of the inclination of the track (usually less than 35°C). Freight cars, which transport such materials as timber and rock, are designed more simply than passenger cars, and the stations are equipped for loading and unloading operations.
The safety features of funicular cars include emergency brakes, warning devices, communications gear, and block signal systems, all of which may be used to coordinate operations between the upper and lower stations and bring cars to a halt if an emergency arises.
Intermittent operations, lengthy periods required for loading and unloading, speeds of less than 3 m per second, and the inability to travel complex routes limit the use of funiculars, which generally handle no more than 600 persons per hour. In the USSR, funiculars are used in Odessa, Kiev, Tbilisi, and Sochi.
I. I. IVASHKOV