Last Friday, the thoroughly modernized Polybahn funicular in Zurich was officially opened on schedule for the start of the semester. Equipped with cutting-edge technology and safety systems, the Polybahn shines in a new splendor.


The Zürichbergbahn, as the Polybahn was originally known, first went into operation in 1889. Today, this popular means of transport provides a service for two million passengers a year (before Covid-19). To ensure that the “Student Express” can continue to carry future generations from Central up to the university and back, the operating company Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich and Garaventa AG jointly carried out a complete modernization of this Zurich landmark.


New drive with displacement unit
The most fundamental replacement was the drive, which is now entirely located on a displacement unit. This enables compensation of the track length differences between tracks 1 and 2. Normally, this is achieved with individual bullwheel displacement units. However, this was not possible due to the limited space available in the machinery room, which dates back to 1889. The project team therefore developed a new concept, based on the model of the displaceable drive on the Funifor ropeway system. In concrete terms, the control system calculates the distance that the drive has to be displaced so that the stopping point in the lower terminal can be precisely maintained. Length changes in the haul rope can also be compensated with this system. A key element of this technical solution is the bumper with shock absorber in the lower terminal. The Polybahn’s technical director, Stephan Kobler, is pleased: “The solution developed by Garaventa makes the boarding and disembarkation situation very comfortable for our passengers.”


New control system and cars
The rebuild also included the supply of a new control system from Frey AG Stans as well as a comprehensive vehicle overhaul at CWA in Olten. Stephan Kobler underlined the excellent collaboration: “The removal of the vehicles in Zurich city center posed a logistical challenge. Thanks to the close and professional working relationship between our employees, the installation team from Garaventa and the forwarding company, we successfully mastered this challenge and we are delighted to be able carry our passengers once again on the ultra-modern ‘Polybähnli’ with immediate effect.”



Polybahn Zurich

Customer: UBS Polybahn AG / Verkehrsbetriebe Stadt Zürich
Inclined length: 176 m
Vertical rise: 41 m
Capacity: 1,200 passengers per hour and direction
Operating Speed: 2.5 m/s
Carriers: 2x 50-passenger cars
Opened: 09/2021



For inquiries:


Garaventa AG
Andreas Bonifazi
+41 79 476 51 15