My week end, looking for Salanfe funicular!

Miéville, Valais (Switzerland).Last week end I received an email which informed me about an underground funicular at the Salanfe Dam, at 1920 m above Martigny (Switzerland).

I have an ambition to know all the funiculars of Switzerland and I have to confess that I had never heard about such a funicular ! Nobody told me anything about this funicular…!!

So I spent the entire week end to find out the truth about it !

Looking at the map of the area, I noticed an underground pressure pipeline linking the Salanfe Dam to the Miéville Power Station down in the Rhone Valley!

The underground pressure pipeline is quite 4800 meters long !

If there is a funicular along the pipeline it would be the longest funicular of Switzerland!

Today I received the answer of my question ! In fact there are two funiculars instead of one ! The two funiculars are linked together with an underground electric train !

The longest funicular of Switzerland is still the Sierre-Montana-Crans with a length of 4192 meters.

In 1985 for his movie “Les loups entre eux”, José Giovanni shot some scenes in the funicular and at the Salanfe dam !

Thanks to Jan D. Freienberg for telling me about this funicular !


(Poster of movie “Les Loups entre Eux”, José Giovanni, 1985)

One thought on “My week end, looking for Salanfe funicular!”

  1. My own write up concerning this system is

    SALANFE SA, Vernayaz
    formerly: Energie Ouest Suisse (EOS) (till 1947)
    Elektrizitätwerk Lonza SA (1924-xx)
    la Force et Lumiere SA (192x-24)
    G. Stächelin, Basel (1902-2x)
    Société Industrielle du Valais (1897-1902)
    The original project was an electrochemical (calcium carbide etc) works relying on power from the Usine de Pissevache, taking the name from a prominent waterfall almost above the site. This plant was rail connected from 1897 and operational from 1898. The railway siding was connected to the Lonza branch and enlarged 1910-28 to reach a total length of 1335m. It was electrified at CFF voltage (15kV AC). This plant ceased production in 1948. An external 500-mm incline probably dates from this period. The standard gauge line was abandoned from about 1995.
    Lonza SA and Energie Ouest Suisse (EOS) set up a joint undertaking of dating from 1949-50 to produce electric power from an underground power station, “Usine de Miéville”, which lies on virtually the same site. The reservoir of Lac de Salanfe is situated near the Tour Sallière six kilometres to the west. A narrow gauge railway allows material to be taken through the mountain and up to the dam alongside the pressure pipes. The line runs from a small fan of exchange sidings into the mountain and then goes up one cable-worked incline. From the top of this another line runs in an underground tunnel some three kilometres long to another cable-worked incline at the of which there is a final short level section with its own diesel locomotive. The intermediate level section, which has two stabling points within the mountain, is electrified with a trolley overhead. The gauge within the mountain has not yet checked – it is claimed to be 750 mm; that at the lowest level is 800 mm.
    By at least 2007 the plant was being operated as Hydro Exploitation Salanfe and Lonza have pulled out leaving EOS as the sole owner of Salanfe SA.
    Gauge: 1435 mm Locn: 272 $ 568390,110590 Date: 07.1988
    206 0-4-0PM Bbm BLW VM ? 1916 (a) display
    Gauge: 800 mm Locn: 272 $ 568390,110590, see alsoin text Date: 08.2002
    4wDM Bdm O&K MV0 25071 1951 (b) s/s
    4wDM Bdm O&K MV0 25072 1951 (b) (3)
    4wDM Bdm O&K MV0 25073 1951 (b) s/s
    202 4wDM Bdm Brookville BMD-8 3517 1949 (e) Miéville
    4wDM Bdm Brookville BMD-8 3518 1949 (f) Salanfe
    1 4wWE Bg1 Stadler 29 1949 new
    2 4wWE Bg1 Stadler 28 1949 new
    (a) supplied via Val de Maizet [F] /1919 to an EOS construction site (Arbon?) before coming here. There are other versions of the history of this locomotive. In one them there were two similar locomotives. In another one locomotive was here and was later scrapped and a second obtained later. Further research is required.
    (b) new via MBA, Dübendorf.
    (e) earlier “202”; new via International Harvester Export and Joly, Lausanne apparently as 800 mm 4wPM Bbm.
    (f) new via International Harvester Export and Joly, Lausanne apparently as 800 mm 4wPM Bbm.
    (3) to ?; to Oliver Weder, Diepoldsau; by 1999 to FWF, Otelfingen.
    see: http://www.eosholding.ch/home/entreprise/chiffres_et_faits/historique.htm

    I have some photos which you ask for. I aim to go back in about April 2009.

    Outside is another funicular – this time at 500 – mm. This was Lonza’s. I have photographs from 1966 and 2008 if you are interested.

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