With the adoption by the French Government of the plans of M. Duportal and the awarding of the building contract, the project of a trolley-line to the summit of the highest mountain in Europe is brought one step nearer to realization. The scheme is not as fantastic as it appears at first sight.
Despite its great height - fifteen thousand seven hundred and eighty-two feet above the sea - Mont Blanc is not a formidable ascent for the mountaineer who has perseverence and physical endurance, and Swiss railroads are now in operation up far steeper grades than its comparatively gentle slopes. It is only at an elevation of eleven thousmid five hundred feet that the trolley-line will reach the glacier region.
Although easy in one sense, the ascent of Mont Blanc under the existing conditions is no small undertaking, as it requires two days and, at the least, close to fifty dollars. The new railroad will cut the time to four hours and the expense very considerably, though the trip will probably never be a cheap one.
The speed of the new cars will be controlled by other factors than the difficulty of operation. Between the summit of the mountain and the starting-point of the line there is a difference of temperature of about twenty-five degrees Centigrade, or forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. It is estimated that a change of eight degrees Ceatigrad - fourteen degrees Fahrenheit - is as great as can be experienced without discomfort. The cars will only climb about four thousand feet in an hour.
The trains to be run on the new line will be made up of two passenger cars, weighing four tons each, and an electric locomotive, weighing fifteen tons. When full, the cars will hold eighty persons, and there will be eight of these trains running at once, it is expected. Including three hundred thousand dollars for the power-house and electric equipment, the line is expected to cost two million dollars, or about two hundred thousand dollars a mile.
Fares will not be the only source of revenue, however, for it is probable that a number of hotels will be erected along the line, as in the case of similar roads.