The Polybahn, also known as the UBS Polybahn, is a funicular railway in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. The line links the Central square with the terrace by the main building of ETH Zürich, which was formerly called Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum, and from which the railway derives its name. Previous names for the line include the SBG Polybahn and the Zürichbergbahn. The line is owned by the banking group UBS AG, and operated on their behalf by the municipal transport operator Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich.
The Polybahn is one of two funiculars within the city of Zürich, the other being the Rigiblick funicular in the city’s northern suburbs. Additionally, the city’s Dolderbahn rack railway was originally a funicular, until its conversion to rack working in the 1970s.
In 1886 a concession for the railway was issued, and the line was opened by the Zürichbergbahn company in 1889. The funicular was initially water-driven (filling water in a ballast tank under the carriage at the top station, emptying at the bottom); the railway was converted to electric drive in 1897.
In 1950 the Zürichbergbahn company began losing money, and eventually (in the 1970s) decided not to renew the concession. In 1972 a foundation was created to help preserve the Polybahn. In 1976 the Union Bank of Switzerland, then known in German as the Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft or SBG, rescued the Polybahn, branding it as the SBG Polybahn. The line and cars were refurbished for a planned 20 more years service.
In 1996 the railway was completely rebuilt. The haulage mechanism was replaced, and fully automated, whilst the old three-rail tracks were replaced with the current two-rail tracks. On 21 October 1996 the railway reopened and is now advertised under the name UBS Polybahn, reflecting the rebranding (in 1998) of the owning banking group as UBS AG. In 1998 the line set a new record, carrying more than 2 million passengers.
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Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to numerous lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. Its cities contain landmarks like capital Bern’s Zytglogge clock tower and Lucerne’s wooden chapel bridge.
The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.
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