Special snow blower for swiss funicular

As a government-owned facility, Niesenbahn in Switzerland must be available all year round. In order for the funicular to be able to operate even when there is lots of snow, the operators rely on a snow blower from ZAUGG.


The mountain Niesen is a famous Swiss trip destination with summer operation. The funicular that runs up the mountain, however, must be available 365 days a year. “Niesenbahn” runs on steep tracks but it has no cogwheels. A single cable guided over two rollers connects two cars. It is a funicular, or rather two funiculars, as the 3,499-meter-long route is divided into two sections.


Two cars run along Section 1 of the route, and two other cars along Section 2. There is everything along the route: bends, bridges, galleries, tunnels, and gradients of up to 68 percent, indicating a technical master performance – but also steep requirements for the operating personnel. Especially during the winter when high-performance machines are needed to remove snow from the tracks. In this, the company NIESENBAHN AG relies on a special snow blower from ZAUGG. “ZAUGG is a synonym for special solutions and Swiss quality.

So it was immediately clear to us that we needed to order a snow blower from them,” says Hansueli Mani, Head of Technology and Operations at Niesenbahn AG. ZAUGG’s engineers came to Niesen in 2004 to take measurements and plan the snow blower as Niesenbahn AG had special requirements in terms of its measurements, weight, clearing performance and incline – standard products were out of the question.

Hansueli Mani

Head of Technology and Operations, Niesenbahn AG

“This special snow blower from ZAUGG has significantly improved our situation. Even with wet snow, the machine offers an enormous clearing performance and so we can drive faster than we did in the past. Its operability, as well as maintenance, are very user-friendly, increasing the snow blower’s lifespan. We have been running it failurefree since 2004 – and expect that it will serve us for a total of 40 years.”

The Niesenbahn snow blower has been specially designed for gradients of up to 68 percent.

60-meter ejection distance

Every winter this special snow blower clears layers of snow up to six meters from the Niesenbahn funicular route. “The machine has been clearing the tracks efficiently and trouble-free for the last 14 years – with an enormous cutting performance,” continues Mani. Even wet snow is a piece of cake for the machine. The duration of maintenance has become significantly shorter, too, as the employees can drive faster.


“With powder snow, we can clear 2.1 meters per second with an ejection distance of 60 meters,” boasts the operations manager. This extraordinary performance is necessary as large masses and drifts of snow appear here as a rule, rather than an exception, due to strong winds and the route’s exposed location.

The snow blower is garaged in the middle station. Photos: ZAUGG

Simple assembly

With heavy snowfall, the snow blower is used up to three times a day. This is why a simple assembly, operability and maintenance are so very important. The Niesen snow blower is garaged in the middle station to make sure it is ready for use as fast as possible. “The machine gets mounted on the pushed rail vehicle within 15 minutes.Then it is operated by one person in the cable car and the snow blower unit by another.


More personnel are not needed,” explains Mani. He also emphasizes the blower’s easy operability, as well as a clear view with good light which makes work significantly easier during snow flurries. “Even the maintenance of the installation is uncomplicated. To change the oil, you simply open the engine bonnet.” If a more significant repair becomes necessary, Mani relies fully on ZAUGG’s customer service:


“It is fast, competent and highly recommended.” But it is not needed too often – the snow blower runs way too smoothly for that. The expected service life of the blower is 40 years – thanks to the Swiss quality from ZAUGG. ts

Technical data

Snow blower

Cutting reel 900 mm

Engine unit