Conductor Bar 0812 part of Niagara Falls’ Incline Railway’s Ups and Downs

Hornblower Incline Railway and the Niagara Falls Incline Railway powered by Conductix-Wampfler

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It’s been almost 30 years, but tourists are again able to ride the reborn “Maid of the Mist” rail down into the Niagara Gorge. In 2017, Hornblower Niagara Cruises began the work of bringing the old Clayton Incline (renamed Maid of the Mist Railway in 1977) back to the base of the Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mist funicular railway closed in 1990, bowing to the installation of elevators. However, the need for more capacity led to the need to resurrect the funicular railway.

As with the other funicular, the Niagara Falls Incline Railway, our 0812 series conductor rail system is used on the Hornblower to power the climate control systems in each of the two 50-passenger funicular cars. As part of the $12 million project, Conductix-Wampfler supplied two sets of 342-foot sections of the 0812 conductor bar. Each 4-pole system is mounted on both sides of the rail and can handle up to 200 amps to independently power each of the incline rail cars.

A “funicular railway” or incline rail system, uses a pair of rail cars on a pulley system. The Hornblower operates on a single rail, save for a split section where both cars can pass each other. The cable loops over a large pulley and pulls the rail cars. Each car is attached to both ends of the cable, so one rail car serves as a counterweight to the other. Both cars work synchronously. The cars travel up and down the 185-foot side of the gorge. Both the running rails and conductor rails are mounted at angles, which makes them less susceptible to movement. Each bar system has expansion joints and anchor systems to prevent vertical shifts and movement past the original specifications.

The Hornblower incline rail system closes from December 1st through the middle of May, since the Maid of the Mist boats do not run in the fall or winter. Therefore, a conductor rail heater system was not required. However, due to the high saturation of water mist in the area, stainless-steel bars and insulator-type hangars are used. There have been several iterations of a funicular rail system around the Niagara Falls. In 1894, the Clifton Incline was the first to take passengers from the base of Clifton Hill down into the gorge. This Clifton Incline was torn down and replaced by the Maid of the Mist Incline in 1977. By 1990, the Niagara Parks System, who built the Maid of the Mist complex in the late 1980s, constructed four elevators. These doubled the number of transported passengers, which made the Maid of the Mist incline expendable.

Four funicular rail systems are operating throughout Canada, two of them, the Hornblower Incline Railway and the Niagara Falls Incline Railway at Niagara Falls. As noted, both of them are reliably powered by Conductix-Wampfler's 0812 conductor rail systems.