Text and Photos Michel Azéma

Funiculars of Switzerland

SFMC - Société des Forces Motrices du Châtelot

(photo Michel Azéma May 1998)

The Electricité Neuchâteloise S.A. (electricity company most part owned by the Neuchâtel Canton) and Electricité de France (EDF, the french national company) operate the power station of Le Châtelot since 1953.

The power station receives the water from the Châtelot Dam which is located some kilometers upstream on the Doubs river just after the famous waterfall "Le Saut du Doubs".

The hydroelectric power station of Le Châtelot is located into the Neuchâtel Canton at the North-West of La Chaud-de-Fond near the small hamlet of Les Planchettes.

 In this area the river Doubs is the border between France and Switzerland, the Centrale du Châtelot is on the Swiss bank of the river (right bank). At this point the Doubs river flows in a very deep and narrow gorge with very steep slopes. The only way to reach the river is a footpath.

So in 1950, when it was decided to built this power station, the only way to reach the river and transport the nessessary materials for the buildind was to install an incline railway from the plateau down to the river.

The incline was built in 1951 and all the materials and all the hydraulic turbines were taken down by the incline railway!


Technical Datas


but on request fishermen, hikers can use the incline (It is advised to phone at the power station before!)
Type of funicular
Type of tracks
Type of energy
Bottom station
Centrale du Châtelot (627 m)
Top station
Les Planchettes (1000 m)
1000 m
Difference of levels
373 m
Minimum Gradient
15 %
Maximum Gradient
100 %
1 m
1,5 m/s (payload < 4 tons)
0,75 m/s (payload > 4 tons)
 Maximum Payload
20 tons
162 kW
Number of passengers
26 seated
14 standing
42 mm
Electricité Neuchâteloise S.A.
Service d'exploitation de la centrale du Châtelot
Tel: 41.32.913.41.32


Copyright © 1996-2018 Funimag
Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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