|EN: The Glória funicular
The Glória funicular was opened in 1885 and in February 2002 it was classified as a national monument. It was the second of its kind in Lisbon, thanks to the initiative of the New Lisbon Mechanical Lift Company (Nova Companhia dos Ascensores Mecânicos de Lisboa - N.C.A.M.L.). This company specialized in the building and running of urban transport on sloping terrain. The first of its lifts was the Lavra, opened the year before.
The story of this lift can be traced back to 1875, when the Lisbon City Council gave the rights to two individuals to set up a form of transport on sloping terrain in the Calçada da Glória. The construction projects, however, were never approved and time slipped by.
In 1882, the subject was in the air again and the construction rights were awarded at this juncture to an engineer from Porto, Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard. He immediately transferred the rights to the N.C.A.M.L.
The management had been given the assurance by the City Council that it could have the lift up and running by 31 May, 1886, and it immediately set about the building works. The job, however, was far from trouble-free. Some of the incidents were major, some minor and they ran from embargos on the construction work to delays in the supply of materials and carriages.
In spite of these problems, the N.C.A.M.L. was able to open the funicular to the public on 24 October 1885, with the pomp and circumstance typical of the time - a host of guests, fireworks, music and much cheering and hooraying.
The carriages were different from anything that Lisbon had ever seen. They had two floors, the lower one with benches along the sides, the backs towards the street and the upper one also with two benches laid out lengthwise but back to back so that the passengers looked out at the walls of the nearby buildings. Access to the top floor was by spiral staircase on the platform which was at the upper end of the carriage.
Traction was with rack and cable, with water as the counterweight, and the carriages were connected by a cable so that they counterbalanced each other. They had water tanks on board, which emptied when they reached the Restauradores square and filled when they were at the top, in the Rua da Misericórdia. The difference in weight made the system work. Close to the internal rails along the length of the route there was a rack where the cogs of the wheels fitted. These cogs were connected to the axis, allowing the brake operator to change the speed of the carriage.
The company, however, was forced to change this traction system because there were so many problems with the water supply. They purchased a system from the German company Maschinnenfabrick (Esslingen) which was powered by a steam engine that drove the cable. The machinery was installed in a building in the Largo da Oliveirinha.
In 1912, the company signed another contract with the Lisbon City Council, allowing it to electrify the tracks. An agreement was reached with the Lisbon Electric Tramways Limited and Carris for the joint operation of the substation at Santos and the construction work began immediately.
The method was also used for the other funiculars, at Lavra and Bica.
In both of these there was a system with two carriages connected by a cable and acting as counterweights.
The track was made up of two external rails carrying the carriage wheels and another two flanking a slot where the cable passed.
Each carriage had a clamp which was connected to the cable and a powerful brake which gripped the two internal wheels by means of a pad, a system which is still in use today. Apart from this, there was another brake which worked by pressure on the rails. Each carriage weighed about 10 tons and ran on two 25 horsepower electric engines working jointly.
The carriages could only start if both brake operators worked together but it only needed one operator to stop them. The electric current was transmitted by a pantograph on the roof. The bodywork was also different from previously. The carriages were made of wood, painted the colour of mahogany and the windows had iron bars to stop the passengers from leaning out. There were two benches placed lengthwise and between 20 and 22 passengers could be carried at any one time.
In September 1915, the Calçada da Glória was electrified and came back into service.
Some years later, in 1926 to be precise, the N.C.A.M.L. was wound up and Carris acquired the operating concession, along with all the rolling stock and fixtures. The first thing that the new owner did was to build a shelter for passengers, in Restauradores square. Many people voiced their disapproval of this, especially in the media, and it did not in fact last for very long. The shelter was opened on 4 November 1927 and it saw its last days in 1934.
It was also in the thirties that the carriages were painted yellow, this being the standard colour which was used by Carris and still is.