Swiss rail manufacturer Stadler will upgrade the Skitube Alpine Railway in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, under a new contract from Perisher Ski Resort.
The Skitube provides access to snowfields at Blue Cow Mountain and the Perisher Valley, giving passengers access between three stations – Bullocks Flat, Blue Cow and Perisher Valley.
It is served by 11 Comeng carriages, including four driving carriages, four motor cars and three non-driving carriages.
Skitube employs a Swiss-designed rack and rail system which uses a toothed cog pinion wheel engaging with a centrally located ‘third rail’ style rack to drive and brake the trains safely up and down the steep mountain inclines.
Perisher chief executive Peter Brulisauer says after nearly 30 years of operation, replacement parts are becoming increasingly hard to find, so the decision has been made to upgrade and modernise Skitube.
“Skitube has safely carried over four million passengers up to Perisher Valley and Blue Cow and remains the most efficient and practical way to allow people to experience the very best of Perisher,” Brulisauer said.
The modernisation program is scheduled to be carried out during the off-season between October 2016 and April 2017.
The new train control system to be installed by Stadler includes upgraded braking, electronic control equipment and driver displays for controlling and monitoring train functions, the Swiss company said.
“Stadler will also carry out commissioning, safety and functionality tests together with Perisher’s rail specialists,” the manufacturer outlined.
Skitube was built in October 1984, by a consortium of Australian and Swiss companies. It involved the boring and drill-and-blasting of two tunnels, 3.3 and 2.6 kilometres in length.
“In 1998 Stadler took over the original equipment manufacturer, the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works firm, which was responsible for designing and manufacturing the Skitube rack railway system.
“The rack railway system allows trains to climb much steeper grades than would otherwise be possible – up to 25 degrees, depending upon the type of rack system employed, compared to four to six degrees for standard trains.”
Other Stadler rack railway trains include the train up to the Monserrat Monastery near Barcelona in Spain, and the Swiss Jungfrau train, which carries passengers to Europe’s highest station to view the Matterhorn.