Kiev Funicular | A Steep Slop Cable Car

The Kiev funicular is one of the main attractions of the city with a long history. This is an unusual means of transportation - a simple carriage that goes up and down a steep slope using a rope pull. Actually, the word "funicular" is translated from Latin as a cable car, and the first name of the Kiev funicular is "Mikhailovsky electric cable car."

Kiev Funicular
Today the funicular is very popular among the guests of the capital, but initially, this type of transport had nothing to do with an "attraction". One can only guess how many difficulties the steep climb from Podil created for the local residents. At first, they climbed up the winding paths, but the appearance of wooden stairs did not particularly simplify the difficult route to Mikhailovskaya Square - it was necessary to overcome about 500 steps, passing 36 staircases.

The only way to get to the Upper Town, after passing the steep ascent, was the tram, which passed along the Vladimirsky descent. As for the Andreevsky Spusk, which was even steeper, the construction of the tram track was not even stipulated. First of all, it would become quite difficult from an engineering point of view. So over time, designing a funicular, even though it was expensive to operate, was simply inevitable; it was not only the only possible vehicle for traveling on a steep slope but also the most reliable.

By the way, the funicular, built over 100 years ago, has become a real gift for modern skiers and snowboarders. Fans of winter sports actively use it as a cheap ski lift while skiing along with the nearby territory of Vladimirskaya Gorka.

First Image by Flickr User 3D Maks
Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Steven Kidd


The need to build a funicular for the transport connection between Podol and the Upper Town was thought back in the distant 1883. This idea was proposed by Artur Adolfovich Abragamson (1854 - 1924), who in professional circles was called "the engineer in the square". In fact, he was not only the author of a number of ideas on railway construction but also held leading positions, for example, he was the director of the board of the Moscow-Kazan railway.

The city government gave its final consent to the construction of the funicular only in 1902. Abrahamson was appointed the project manager and the ideological inspirer of the construction, the engineer Nikolai Pyatnitsky was entrusted with the development of track structures, and the architect Alexander Baryshnikov was entrusted with the design of stationary pavilions.

Design work was carried out until 1904, and the construction of the long-awaited "cable car" was completed in May 1905. The general contractor for the work was the City Railway Company, and the main investor was a Belgian joint-stock company, which owned a monopoly on a tram and a horse-drawn city railroad in Kiev. Everything was top-notch - the equipment and even the funicular carriages were made in Switzerland, which had vast experience in the construction of cable cars. The viaduct (a bridge-type structure erected over a ravine) was built according to the advanced technology for that time - using reinforced concrete.

According to rumors, the construction of the funicular resulted in a fairly substantial amount of 172 thousand rubles for the Kiev treasury, and according to others, the Belgian joint-stock company spent 230 thousand rubles.

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Igor Uspenskyi


On May 7, 1905, the grand opening of the Mikhailovsky mechanical lift, as it was called until 1926, took place. On this day, a testing descent took place, and the very next day anyone could use it. Each carriage could freely accommodate about 70 people, and the speed of its movement from top to bottom was quite impressive - 2 meters per second.

The lower station was located on one of the oldest streets in Kiev - Borichev Tok, and the upper one - on Mikhailovskaya Square, not far from the entrance to the Mikhailovsky Golden-Domed Cathedral. True, the distance should have been different. It was planned to build a track with a length of 250 meters, but in the end, it was 200 meters. The fact is that the owner of one of the estates located on Borichev Tok on the way of the "cable car", which opposed the plans, became an obstacle. The declared amount of compensation demanded the demolition of her house and the construction of a new one was simply exorbitant, moreover, the state laws of the empire were on the side of private property.

It is interesting that the first funicular opened quite shortly before Kievsky in Odessa - in 1902 so that the capital lift became the second in the Russian Empire.


In 2015, the Kiev funicular celebrated a solid anniversary - 110 years. He managed to survive the revolution, devastation, and civil war, but in 1928 the deterioration of the cable exceeded the permissible norm. Everything would be fine, but during the repair, the upper carriage fell off the clamping blocks and flew downward, smashing the second carriage to smithereens. Fortunately, no one was hurt during this incident. At the same time, this became the reason for the overhaul of the Kiev funicular.

At the Kiev Electric Transport Plant, new cars were manufactured, the design of band brakes was improved, but, most importantly, the length of the route was lengthened by 38 meters, having built a lower station on Revolution Street (now Sagaidachnogo Street). In a word, the Soviet government embodied the original idea into reality.

During the reconstruction in 1958, machinery and cars were replaced, and the stations were rebuilt. And during the last major overhaul in 1984-1986, an arch was added to the appearance of the lower station and the upper station was lengthened by 5 meters. The traction sheave was also replaced, which served for almost 80 years.

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Julia Snip

  • Today the length of the Kiev funicular is 222 meters. It passes this path at an incline of 18-20 ° in just 3 minutes, developing a speed of 7.2 km / h (2 m / s).
  • The difference in height between the upper and lower stations is 75 m.
  • The funicular gauge is 1.2 m, while the railway gauge is 1.5 m.
  • The upper part of the funicular route is located on a reinforced concrete overpass.
  • The cars are marked with the letters "L" (left) and "P" (right) relative to the upper station.
  • The capacity of each carriage is about 100 people, with 30 seats.
  • The weight of one carriage without passengers is about 10 tons.
  • The funicular carries about 10-15 thousand passengers per day.
  • On weekends and holidays, long lines are often lined up at the funicular, as it is actively used both as urban transport and as a tourist attraction.
  • The Kiev funicular carries more than 4 million passengers annually, although the load has increased to 7.7 million passengers.
  • The Kiev funicular uses a pendulum (the most common) scheme of operation: two non-motorized carriages are rigidly connected by a rope thrown over a pulley located at the upper station. Moving one of the carriages downward leads to asymmetrical movement of the other carriage upward, and the carriages disperse at the central point of the track. In such a system, the engine driving the pulley spends energy only to move the difference in weight between two differently filled carriages, as well as to overcome the frictional force.
  • The appearance and location of the lower station during the existence of the funicular changed several times, but the forms of the upper station were not subject to changes at all.
  • At the entrance of the upper station, there is a small diorama showing the history of the development of the funicular and the surrounding area.

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User nickhazlewood

Such an interesting attraction as a funicular can be found only in some cities, therefore, if you are in Kiev, you should definitely take a ride on this unusual type of transport. Especially considering the fact that the Kiev funicular is a historical phenomenon. It is one of the first three erected in Ukraine, including, by the way, the very popular Odessa. No matter what time of year you decide to ride the funicular in the capital, the city's panoramas will always amaze you with their beauty, be it lush green tree crowns, falling golden foliage, or a city-covered in snow. In general, Pochtovaya Square in its current form, in fact, the very place where the funicular is located, deserves separate eloquent words, because exactly how it looks now turns it into a real magnet for guests of the metropolis.

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Alexander Kuznetsov

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Marcus Wong

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Alex Galkin

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User World Wide Gifts

Kiev Funicular
Image by Flickr User Serhii Korycki

Source — Danelis | (RU) Wikipedia

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