Funiculars of Lyon

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The Funiculars of Lyon (Funiculaires de Lyon) is a network of funicular railways in Lyon, France. Of the five lines once in existence, only the two routes on the Fourvière hill remain in operation, with the rest of the network now either closed, converted to road vehicle use, or integrated within the Lyon underground system.


No fewer than five funicular lines, nicknamed ficelles ("threads") were built.

  • The first line opened in 1862 and linked Rue Terme and Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. The funicular was closed and converted to a road tunnel in 1968.
  • The second line opened in 1891 and served the Butte de la Croix Rousse. The line was converted into a rack railway in 1972 and rebuilt and extended at both ends to become Line C of the Lyon Metro in 1978.
  • The third line opened in 1878 linking Saint-Jean to Saint-Just with an intermediate station at Minimes, climbing the Fourvière hill. The line was converted to a rack railway in 1901 and back to a funicular in 1958.
  • The fourth and fifth lines were opened in 1900, linking the Tour Metallique on Fourvière hill to Saint-Paul and the Basilica on Fourvière with Saint-Jean. The first was closed in 1937 and the second was modernised in 1970 with a change of gauge from 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) to 1,300 mm (4 ft 3 316 in). The Fourvière - Saint-Jean line is 431 metres (1,414 ft) long with a 30% incline.

Both lines still in service were modernised again in 1986 and 1987. Fourvière's funicular was refurbished at the start of 2018, and St Just's funicular will be refurbished at the start of 2019. A new station at Saint-Jean was built in 1991 to serve the new line  D  of the Metro and both funicular lines, and the whole complex named Vieux-Lyon.

According to the definition of a rapid transit system given by french dictionaries : « electric traction railway, partially or totally underground, serving a large urban area » - Lyon can boast about having one of the world's first metropolitan rail lines since the Terme funicular line, which meets these characteristics, was opened in 1862, six months before the first line of the London metropolitan railway.

Current lines[edit]

Route map[edit]

Funiculaires de Lyon - plan.png

F1 (Saint-Jean - Saint-Just)[edit]

Funicular 1 of Lyon at Vieux-Lyon - Cathédrale Saint-Jean station.
Saint-Jean - Saint-Just 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
Length 791 metres (2,595 ft)
Height 91.2 metres (299 ft)
Number of stops 3
Fleet 2 funicular cars
Capacity 216 passengers
Length of journey 3 minutes 20 seconds
Opening times 05:00 to 24:00
Frequency of services 5 to 10 minutes

F2 (Saint-Jean - Fourvière)[edit]

Funicular F2 at Vieux-Lyon - Cathédrale Saint-Jean station.
Saint-Jean - Fourvière 1,300 mm (4 ft 3 316 in)
Length 404 metres (1,325 ft)
Height 116 metres (381 ft)
Number of stops 2
Fleet 2 funicular cars
Capacity 70 passengers
Length of journey 2 minutes
Opening times 06:00 to 22:00
Frequency of services 5 to 10 minutes

Fourvière funicular refurbishment[edit]

From 2 January 2018, Fourvière's funicular began a 5-month refurbishment. It was completed in June. It featured an updated livery, refurbished interior, and it was also made more accessible.

Funicular cars in preservation[edit]

Funicular car n°1 is preserved at the AMTUIR (fr). It operated on the single track line from Saint-Jean to the Basilique de Fourvière. The line it served on was modernised in 1970 and equipped with new cars.

The car was given to the AMTUIR (Musée des Transports Urbains) by the Transports en Commun de la Région Lyonnaise (TCRL) on 27 May 1970.

Tramcar n°11 data
Length 8.62 metres (28 ft 3 in)
Width 2.10 metres (6 ft 11 in)
Height 3.60 metres (11 ft 10 in)
Gross weight 6.2 t (6.1 long tons; 6.8 short tons)
Capacity 12/44
Current By pantograph for lighting only.
Gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge

See also[edit]

External links[edit]