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The Arzviller Boat Lift, one of the French waterway’s most iconic features, has experienced a serious malfunction, one that came close to causing multiple fatalities.

On the afternoon of 4th July 2013, the ‘Paris’ one of the two 21-person passenger boats that regularly provide tourists with the unique 45m lift experience found herself in danger of falling into the valley below. She had moved to enter the transverse sliding chamber when the tank started to proceed downhill, and with the gates open. Immediate action by the skipper resulted in the boat becoming wedged between the upper access canal and the tank itself.

All passengers were quickly and safely brought off but huge quantities of water flowed from the breach and parts of the village of Lutzelbourg, which lies below the Lift, were evacuated as a precaution. The situation was subsequently brought under control, but this was a very serious machinery malfunction and a full investigation has been mounted into the circumstances.

Inevitably, the Marne-Rhine canal is now closed at Arzviller and is likely to remain so for weeks, if not months.

> Update July 2014 – Closed again <