The theme letter for our travel pics this week is R – for Railways.
For Wednesday, we return to one of our favourite cities – San Francisco – and its iconic cable cars.
Back in the 1870s and 1880s, the city boasted 23 cable car lines – now there are only three. And they are not used by local commuters; the seven million passengers each year are virtually all tourists.
Once you travel on one, you know why: they are clunky, and slow, and inefficient – but so much fun!
The cable cars have no motors – instead, there are cables under the streets that are drawn along at a constant speed, wound on giant reels at a centrally located ‘power house’ (which is also the site of the storage garage for the cable cars, and the city’s Cable Car museum)
The cable cars are pulled by the cable, held by a grip that extends from the car through a slit in the street surface, between the rails. To start and stop the movement of the car, the gripman closes and opens the grip around the cable.