Britain's steepest cliff railway has carriages reinforced because passengers have become heavier

Britain's steepest cliff railway has had to be reinforced
Britain's steepest cliff railway has had to be reinforced

Britain's steepest cliff railway has had to be reinforced because passengers are now so much heavier than when it opened in 1892. Parts stripped from a Land Rover were used to strengthen the suspension to 18-passenger carriages on the 200ft climb at Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

Malvern Tipping, director of the Bridgnorth Funicular Railway, said the extra weight of passengers had been jamming the doors.

"Part of the problem we had was not only that some renewal of the support and springing was required, but we are faced with people having become larger and heavier," he said.

"It arises from us all eating too much and enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle. Like others, I now have to try to watch my weight."

He blamed the inactive lifestyle people are living and said the carriages were designed to take smaller people.

The railway, built in 1891, is said to be both the shortest and the steepest in Britain.

This 2016 picture shows the cliff railway carriage before its renovation Credit:  Jay Williams

Suspension to both carriages on the line has been repaired to cope with heavier passengers, and supporting hangars and brackets were installed using parts taken from a Land Rover.

This comes after during busy periods throughout 2018, railway staff noticed carriage doors becoming stuck shut capacity due to overwhelming stress to the supporting brackets.

Reports in the journal, Oxford Economic Papers, show the average height of men has increased by almost 11cm since 1871, while The Lancet medical journal published that about 30 per cent of the world is currently obese or overweight.

Exactly why people are getting fatter is a question of heated scientific debate.

Some researchers point to the traditional argument of eating too much and exercising too little as the culprit, whereas others offer alternative explanations, including the role of genetics and viruses that have been linked to obesity.

The repair work, which has taken three months to complete and also saw leaf springs that were clogged up with paint cleared, started in March and required engineers from Digwoods, in Alveley, to install one supporting bracket each Sunday when the railway is closed for maintenance.

Barry Evans, engineer at the cliff railway, said: "New and upgraded suspension to both carriages now ensures a smooth ride for all.

"New hangars, brackets and bushes have been fitted to the cars in order to take some of the harshness out of the ride.

"Our customers will notice the difference since the ride will only get smoother as the new parts settle in."

Engineers have already identified the next upgrade to the railway and are set to start work within the coming weeks.

Mr Tipping added: "Both carriages only needed four sets of parts, but we ordered 18 of everything so we have sufficient for when we will repeat the process in years to come.

"I have yet to see the finished product, but noticed a great improvement when I inspected the first carriage that was completed.

"We are now going to make some additions to the electrical controls over our operating system.

"We have already obtained the parts and I am told that the work is to commence shortly."

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.