Elevador da Bica - Lisboa - Portugal
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member manchanegra
N 38° 42.514 W 009° 08.810
29S E 487233 N 4284446
Quick Description: Elevador da Bica is the 3rd Lisbon Funicular: it opened in 1892 connecting Rua de São Paulo to Largo do Calhariz in Bairro Alto.
Location: Lisboa, Portugal
Date Posted: 7/12/2011 9:54:09 AM
Waymark Code: WMC105
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 16

Long Description:
Lisbon’s steeply sloping terrain has always been a serious problem for the transport of people and goods between the high and the low-lying areas. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Company was using “American-style” trams (using animals to draw the carriages which were on rails) but not even these could answer the problem satisfactorily.

When mechanical traction became available, a company was set up to solve the problem - the Lisbon Mechanical Lift Company (Companhia dos Ascensores Mecânicos de Lisboa).

It was founded on 6 June 1882 and reorganised two years later, when it became the New Lisbon Mechanical Lift Company (Nova Companhia dos Ascensores Mecânicos de Lisboa) and provided the city with a series of funiculars working up and down the slopes. The first was officially opened in 1884 in the Calçada do Lavra. This was followed by the funicular on the Calçada da Glória

when the new company signed a contract with the Lisbon municipality on 20 April 1888, it was awarded the right as concessionaire to install another funicular running from the Rua de S.Paulo up the Rua de Duarte Belo to connect with the Largo do Calhariz.

Work began in 1890. The engine housing was completed by May and track laying began in November.

Construction was slowed down by a variety of problems: the laying of the gutter, collisions and the very nature of the steeply-sloping terrain. In spite of all these factors and repeated delays, the official tests took place on 27 June, with the service open to the public the next day.

The traction system was by rack and cable, with water as the counter-weight. Each carriage was equipped with a water tank which was emptied each time it reached the Rua de S. Paulo and filled at the top, in the Largo do Calhariz. The difference in weight was enough to run the system. The carriages were open, nine metres long, with benches along the sides.

There were many problems with breakdowns in the water supply and this meant that the system was repeatedly out of order. As a result, the Company decided in 1886 to replace the system with a traction operation using steam power. The equipment was supplied by the German company Maschinnenfabrick, Esslingen and remained in service until the switch to electricity.

As early as 1903, the company, probably as a result of the appearance and rapid expansion of the trams, had asked foreign manufacturers for tenders for electrification of the system. Authorization for the change, however, was only given in 1912, after a new contract had been signed with the City Council. Then an agreement was reached with Lisbon Electric Tramways Limited and Carris for the joint operation of the Santos substation. This solved the problem of electricity supply, fundamental for the service.

The new system was used in all three funiculars - Lavra, Bica and Glória

There were two carriages linked by a cable and each acted as a counterweight to the other.

The line consisted of two rails which took the wheels of the funicular and two other along the slot where the cable passed.

Each carriage had a clamp connecting it to the cable and a powerful brake which worked by gripping the central wheels between two brake pads, one at the bottom, the other at the top. There was also another brake which operated by pressure on the rails. The carriages weighed nearly 10 tons and were powered by two electric motors, working in tandem so that each one could only begin when both brake operators started off at the same time, but each had a separate had operating mechanism which could stop both the funiculars. The carriages were closed in, there were seats along the sides and the entrance was at one end.

On 12 October 1916, the last work was being carried out near the Largo do Calhariz and one of the carriages was being placed on the rails when the brakes failed and the carriage hurtled out of control down the slope to the Station on the Rua de S. Paulo where it crashed, smashing into pieces.

As a result, the Bica funicular was out of service for a number of years until the City Council demanded that it should be brought back.

The system then adopted was different. The carriage motors were no longer used and power was supplied from an underground substation in the Largo do Calhariz.

There was a new look to the carriages, which were supplied by Theodore Bell. They consisted of a chassis and steel wheels on which the carriages sat. These were made of wood, reinforced with steel. The benches were crosswise and there were three compartments. 16 passengers seated and 6 standees on the rear platform could be transported./p>

On 27 June 1927, the Bica funicular was again operational. It then passed into the hands of Carris. At the end of the previous year, the original company was wound up, following protracted negotiations with the Lisbon City Council and Carris, which took over the concession and all the rolling stock and fixtures.

It was probably in the thirties that the carriages were modified and they have not changed since then.

All three funiculars, Calçada do Lavra, Glória and Bica were declared to be national monuments in February 2002.

Source: Carris.pt
Coordinates are from the bottom of the track. Top of the track can be found here: N 38° 42.644 W 009° 08.750
Fees will be the current fee for any carris vehicle (tram, bus, funicular). When the WM was posted the prices were 0.81 Eur for tickets bought in the ticket offices / vending machines or 1.4 Eur if bought on board.
Stamp Issuing Country: France

Date of Issue: 2009

Denomination: 0.56 €

Color: Policromatic

Stamp Type: Single Stamp

Relevant Web Site: [Web Link]

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