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Angels Flight railway in limbo in downtown LA

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp®

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Los Angeles Downtown News reporter Eddie Kim points to the problem, as the two Angels Flight funicular railway cars hang in limbo at the top of the tracks to Bunker Hill. John Rabe

Off-Ramp host John Rabe walks up - and then down - all 153 steps along the Angels Flight funicular railway with Los Angeles Downtown News reporter Eddie Kim, as Angelenos and tourists await the fixes that will let the "world's shortest railway" open again.

The Los Angeles Downtown News headline reads "Will Angels Flight Ever Roll Again?" — and that says it all. The 113-year old two-car funicular railway is the last remnant of the old Bunker Hill. It's in a bunch of noir movies, and when tourists come to downtown LA, the 50-cent ride on the Angels Flight is one of their required stops.

But since the railway reopened in the 1990s after a thirty-year hiatus, it's been shut down more than it's been open to the public. Most recently, it was closed because of an accident this fall that caused a derailment but hurt no one.

Regulators want two big changes, as Eddie Kim outlines in the paper:

The CPUC and NTSB want to see the creation of a track-adjacent walkway for use in future evacuations. They also want to see the installation of end-gates on the rail cars that are tall enough ... to prevent a passenger from being ejected in the event of a sudden stop. 

(Angels Flight) Foundation President John Welborne contends that important mechanical and electrical systems have been revamped and that the railway is ready to operate safely ... “We and outside experts have been looking at the two remaining issues since the CPUC gave credence to the recommendations in the October NTSB report,” Welborne said. “Angels Flight will be up and running safely as soon as we address those recommendations.” 

Read Eddie Kim's article in the LA Downtown News

Meantime, we walk.

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