Featured photo by IG user: @azulox
For the first time in a decade, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway has closed for the winter season. It’s a choice that didn’t come easy for the attraction, but after an in-depth assessment, the team knew it was the right decision.
“We’re evaluating our entire operation,” says Spencer Wren, general manager of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. “We want to do comprehensive examination and maintenance on all of our tracks and trains this winter.”
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has eight passenger trains that make the steady 8.9-mile climb to bring tourists and locals up Pikes Peak, where they can snap photos and wander the summit of the 14,115-foot mountain. Tourism has increased steadily in recent years, with the trains making a combined 1,500+ trips up the mountain in the last year alone. In addition to guests who pay at the station in Manitou Springs, the Cog Railway also takes Barr Trail hikers down when there is space available.
More Time to Focus on Maintenance
The constant trips put a lot of wear and tear on the trains and the tracks, particularly in the winter, where the conditions become harsher the higher the trains ascend. In fact, wear and tear increases tenfold when running the trains in the winter. This year, the Cog Railway decided to take a much-needed break to give the mechanics and repair team more uninterrupted time to work on maintenance, inspect the tracks and make repeated test runs. The early closure also offers the additional benefit of a few extra “warm” days for the crew to work before the snow begins to hit in earnest this winter.
Continued Dedication to Superior Safety
The Cog Railway has always had a strong focus on the safety of its passengers and crew and has the safety records to prove it. The decision to close early supports their commitment to providing their guests with a safe, enjoyable experience.
“We’re extremely proud of our record,” says Wren. “We intend to keep it exceptional, which is why we’ve made the choice to halt the operation for the season and focus on our maintenance.”
The Future of Cog Railway Winter Trips
During the closure, the team also plans to evaluate whether or not the winter closure should become a permanent routine. It wouldn’t be a new idea for the attraction. For the first 110 years of the Cog Railway’s existence, winter closure was the standard. It wasn’t until 2002 that the trains began to run year-round to accommodate increasing demand. During the downtime this winter, the attraction will determine if the benefits of winter trips outweigh the impact on the equipment and make a final decision about future seasonal closures.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has plans to re-open in the spring, but a permanent date has not been set just yet. Until then, guests are encouraged to drive to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway (weather permitting).
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