The HungerburgbahnBLNI Extra 44 - September 2018
[D44] – The Hungerburgbahn
The Hungerburgbahn is a distinctive, cable-worked railway that opened on 1 December 2007, replacing
an earlier funicular railway. It links the village of Hungerburg with the centre of Innsbruck and is the first
section of a journey most of the way up the Hafelekar mountain. The two upper sections are cable cars
and most passengers are going up no further than Hungerburg.
The Hungerburgbahn is 1,838 metres long and climbs 288 metres. The bottom section is level, so the railway cannot
operate as a conventional funicular, where the weight of the descending car balances that of the ascending one.
Therefore, the cable that hauls the cars runs in a continuous loop. The cars travel at up to 36 km/hr, which is
significantly faster than most funiculars. The line was constructed by Strabag, with railway equipment by Leitner.
It is operated by Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen Betriebs GmbH, a public-private partnership.
The platforms at all of the stations have screen doors. Most unusually, these operate vertically. The series of
photographs above show the screen doors at the arrival platform at Congress station open (lowered), half-raised
and closed (raised). Gravity operated steel flaps fold down to bridge the gap between platform and car when the
doors drop below platform level. Access to platforms is via automatic ticket gates, activated by bar-coded tickets.
The stations were designed by
the late Zaha Hadid, whose
other transport work included
Napoli Afragola station and the
Riverside Museum, Glasgow.
The Hungerburgbahn stations
are much more modest in scale.
All are different, but in uniform
style, with distinctive roofs
intended to reflect the
appearance of melting ice.
Congress station (left), the
Innsbruck city terminus, has
platforms below ground. It is
the only station with a staffed
ticket office. The railway runs from here in a cut and cover concrete tunnel, 371 metres long, beside the River Inn
and with a riverside foot path above it. The railway climbs out of the tunnel to the first of two intermediate stations,
Löwenhaus, which is named after a nearby beerhouse. Immediately beyond the station is the cable-stay bridge
that takes the railway over the River Inn.
The railway then runs through a bored tunnel 445 metres long and becomes quite steep. The passing loop, within
the tunnel, is longer than is usual on a funicular and laid out to allow for the relatively high speed of the trains.
The railway emerges from the second tunnel shortly before Alpenzoo station.
The terminal stations have platforms on both sides of the track, one of boarding and the other for alighting. The
intermediate stations have a single platform. These are equidistant from the nearest end of the line, avoiding the
need for one car to stop between stations while the other makes a station stop. The significantly differing gradients
on the line are allowed for by both of the cars comprising a frame from which five cabins are suspended. The cabins
remain level, irrespective of the angle of the frame. Up to 130 people can be carried in a car. An attendant travels
in the car, to operate the doors and give the ready to start signal.
The railway runs in the open from Alpenzoo to the top station, Hungerburg. Sources vary slightly as to height above
sea level, but the figure shown on the building is 857 metres. This is the only part of the line on the site of the old
funicular. To allow for construction, that had to close in 2005. Hungerburg is also served by a bus route from
Innsbruck, so temporary loss of the rail link was not a major problem.
These pictures show the new line under construction at Hungerburg in 2007, with the old one below it, and the
scene as it is today. The new line is on a metal viaduct as it approaches Hungerburg, as was the old one.
The old funicular’s lower station still stands in Innsbruck, as does its bridge over the River Inn. The station is some
distance from the city centre, but the Mühlauer Brücke terminus of tram route 1 is nearby.
This photograph shows much of the new line. Arrowed are Hungerburg station and one of the cars above
Alpenzoo station. The steel viaduct on the approach to Hungerburg can also be seen.
Photographs by Greg Beecroft, 7 August 2018 and 7 September 2007.