Angels Flight, a Los Angeles landmark and tourist destination, is back in business after a horrible accident forced the halting of service back in 2001. It’s still quaint, but under the classic design is some serious modern security.
Angels Flight is a funicular railway, which is a cabled railway consisting of two cars that move simultaneously in opposite directions, counterbalancing each other, usually up a steep hill–so while one is at the top of the slope, the other is at the bottom, and they pass in the middle. Funicular railways are usually tourist attractions of some sort, found all over the world in hilly places. As your semi-useless fact of the day, the steepest funicular railway is the Johnstown Inclined Plane in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at an incline of 70.9%. The more you know!
Unfortunately, in 2001, the funicular nightmare happened to Angels Flight: the cable snapped, and the car at the top of the slope rolled uncontrolled down and smashed into the lower car, killing one passenger and injuring seven. The railway was swiftly shut down, but thanks to some advanced braking security, they opened it back up today, nine years later.
The cars may still be classic wood, but underneath, they’re equipped with state-of-the-art braking systems and a collision avoidance system that should make a repeat of the 2001 accident impossible.
The redesigned mechanism is much like the original, with both cars counterbalancing each other at opposite ends of the same cable. Each car now has a second safety cable, and there are four types of brake systems and collision avoidance technology similar to positive train control. The system relies on sensors on the track to determine the cars’ location and when they are allowed to safely move.
Other updates include entrance gates that automatically open and close.
“It’s highly sophisticated technology on the inside, but we try to keep it funky and old fashion-looking on the outside,” said John Welborne, president of the foundation.
And if you’re still scared, you can take the 153-stair trek instead…oh, who are we kidding. The toll, as always, is 25 cents–and avoiding 153 stairs is worth significantly more to me than a quarter and possibly my life (kidding!).