Overweight passengers mean heavy going for Bridgnorth Cliff Railway
Bridgnorth's historic cliff railway is feeling the strain of overweight passengers, bosses have said.
The railway, built in 1891, has had to have the suspension to both its carriages repaired, as well as have new supporting hangars and brackets installed using parts taken from a Land Rover.
It comes after during busy periods throughout 2018, railway staff noticed carriage doors becoming stuck shut when they were at their 18-passenger capacity due to overwhelming stress to the supporting brackets.
Director of the railway, Malvern Tipping, said part of the problem was the inactive lifestyle people are living and that the carriages were designed to take smaller people back in the 19th century.
He said: "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.
Like others, I now have to try to watch my weight. It arises from us all eating too much and enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle."
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 uprated 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."