Swiss President Doris Leuthard is afraid of heights, but she was still able to go on the maiden voyage of a dizzyingly steep new railway after cutting the ribbon for its opening ceremony Friday. Swiss authorities say the new Stoosbahn line is the world's steepest funicular railway, climbing 2,438 feet over a little more than a mile and, at one point, moving at a 48-degree angle, Deutsche Welle. The ride was "pure thrill, just great," Leuthard said after arriving at its destination, the tiny Alpine village of Stoos. Other passengers said the ride, which passes through three tunnels, was like being in an elevator.
With a maximum gradient of around 110%, the new line is even steeper that the previous record holder, which is also in Switzerland, the Guardian reports. The Gelmerbahn funicular in Bern has a maximum gradient of 106%. But unlike others of its kind, the cars on the Stoosbahn, which resemble beer-barrels, have a level-adjusting function that keeps passengers level as the gradient changes. The project, which replaces a line built in 1933, opens to the public on Sunday. "After 14 years of planning and building, everyone is very proud of this train," says railway spokesman Ivan Steiner. (Read more Switzerland stories.)