|Never stopped by snow or bad weather|
|Bottom station of the old TPH, |
|Past and present...|
The decision to build an expensive funicular (for which the town is still paying) was taken in the light of the up-coming 1992 Albertville Olympics (remember Torville and Dean?), for which Arc 2000 hosted the Speed Skiing event, the 'KL'. (Much of the valley's infrastructure was improved then, including the upgrading of the railway to take TGVs and the express dual-carriageway road from Albertville to Moutiers.)
|Building the bridge over the Isere|
The 'Arc-en-Ciel' uses a simple, prefabricated structure made in sections in a factory rather then on-site in a potentially hostile climate. Once the earthworks were done, it was all bolted together easily and quickly. The two 'rames' each hold 276 people and the 7 minute journey was a great deal faster and more comfortable then either of the previous uplift systems.
|View from the cab|
It'a shame that this, and the appalling Elephant-and-Castle type walkway linking it the railway station are the first impressions many visitors have of Les Arcs. The location of the bottom terminus at the wrong end of the station and miles from the town centre is for me one of the "5 Great Planning Mistakes of Les Arcs" - surely another 500m of track wouldn't have broken the bank back then in the prosperous 1980s?
However, lets be thankful that that the people of Bourg had the courage and vision to build such an efficient, reliable (never been stopped by snow or bad weather), safe (there has never been an accident) link. Just think of the amount of Co2 and pollution saved over 25 years of car-less transport. If only we could persuade them to simplify and extend the timetable into the evenings, perhaps run it every 15 minutes rather than 20, and splash out on a coat of paint and some new flooring for the inside.....
You can even get a hand-made Funi 'custom beanie' hat as a souvenir, made by some enterprising British girls and their grannies. Worn compulsorily by cool Coolbus drivers, and ideal for keeping warm while you have to wait 40 minutes for the next one to Les Granges....