The funicular railway of the Grandhotel Giessbach was the first railway in the world to have a passing loop in the middle of the route. The railway was built in 1879 by the Aarau machine works, with Niklaus Riggenbach (director) and Roman Abt (engineer).
It was for cost reasons that Roman Abt constructed a passing loop for a funicular railway for the first time. The first version was rather complicated: inner tracks on the first car and outer tracks on the second car ensured that the cars always took the correct path, with guardrails on the passing loop. Abt’s passing loop, used ubiquitously today, with a double flange on the outer wheels and a flat roller on the inner wheels, was first used in 1886 on the Lugano Bahnhof funicular
On the Giessbach funicular, the new Abt passing loop was installed later in the autumn of 1890, after the end of season, and used for the first time in 1891. New chassis also came along in 1891, compatible with the new passing loop, with three fixed axes. The central axle has a flat roller on both sides, and serves merely as stabilisation. These chassis from 1891 are still used today! They are now the oldest in Switzerland, after the even older Gütschbahn chassis from 1884 were sadly destroyed in autumn 2012.
The Giessbach funicular is the oldest in Switzerland still in operation. In Europe there are four other frequently running funiculars that can claim seniority: Budapest Burg (02.03.1870), Istanbul Tunnel (17.01.1875), Scarborough South Cliff (06.07.1875) and Lyon St. Juste (08.08.1878).