Funicular boat Lift of Strépy-Thieu
Commissioned by the Ministry of Public Works in 1978 to a consortium of Walloon companies, the construction of the Strépy-Thieu Funicular boat lift, unique in the world, began in 1982 and was inaugurated 20 years later in August 2002.
Located on a branch of the Canal du Centre in Hainaut, Belgium, the Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift is a massive piece of industrial engineering.
The modern lift stands 150 meters tall and consists of two giant "caissons" or water-troughs that carry the boats from the lower portion of the canal to the upper level over 73 meters above, and vice-versa.Each over-sized carrier is able to lift over 8,000 tons of liquids and ship weight. The Ships rest inside while they being transported downstream.
The water depth in each caisson will vary between 3.35 to 4.15 meters depending on the size of ship being transported. 112 total suspension cables support the lift, with each cable being designed to handle below 100kN of force at all times.
Four gigantic electric motors power 8 winches per caisson in order to transport the ships the seemingly insurmontable vertical height difference.
Engineers for this lift took into account many unknowns, even designing the side of the lifts to withstand up to 5 km/hr impact from a 2,000 metric ton vessel.
While the imposing contraption is mainly for commercial trade and shipping, visitors can also ride a boat while it is moved up or down the canal, the lift has a public cafeteria where diners can simply watch the machinery grind away.