We will continue to update this blog as we learn more about the future of the Cog Railway. Click the button for alternative routes up Pikes Peak.
Routes up Pikes Peak
Update: November 21, 2019
Demo and reconstruction continue on pace, even though our Colorado weather has been throwing them a few curveballs here and there. 2019 has seen more days of snow on Pikes Peak than we’ve had in several years. Go figure. But that hasn’t stopped this one-of-a-kind construction project from moving forward as planned. After all, when you’ve been chugging up Pikes Peak over 125 years, you kind of know what to expect!
If you recall, from our last update, the folks at the Pikes Peak Cog Railway were busy pulling out the track all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak. They reached the summit back in October. A surprise road wash out gave them the opportunity to make strategic changes to the way they were distributing materials up the mountain, which they believe may have put them slightly ahead of schedule. (We shouldn’t even say that out loud! But necessity and invention are long-standing friends for a reason!)
Once the summit was reached, they began smoothing the road bed heading back down to the base. Essentially leveling out and tamping down the area where the new tracks will be placed. New rails arrived in early October, with the center cog rails still to come. Knowing Pikes Peak like we do, we asked what the winter weather will do to all that hard work smoothing the road bed. Our friends at the Cog said they were hoping to see rain because it would help the material settle naturally and expose any weak spots before track was laid.
There are also big plans for the depot at the base in Manitou Springs. The current depot has been struggling with the flow of people for decades. A concern not uncommon in an attraction with this much history! Plans are being discussed and should be in place by the end of the year.
On November 19th, Ruxton Avenue was shut down while they lifted the remaining trains off their axles.
Stay tuned for more updates. Cog train experts from Switzerland are coming to inspect the progress the first two weeks of December.
Update: August 9, 2019
Track removal continues on pace. You can still see the tracks at the summit, but we’re excited to see them reach the top. Should be any day now!
Refurbishment of the current trains continues and they now have a delivery date for the new trains! The trains should arrive in Manitou in January 2021 — yes, those trains have a long production time.
The folks at the Cog continue to work closely with the contractor on the Summit House, GE Johnson. They are coordinating their efforts and material distribution to ensure minimal interference for guests. New track is being distributed along the mountain.
Stay tuned for more updates as they reach new milestones.
Update: February 28, 2019
We had a chance to sit down with the gentlemen in charge of the Cog’s rebuilding project. You may have seen photos of the old trains being trucked down Manitou Avenue if you follow any Manitou businesses on Facebook. It’s been quite the sight!
These beautiful old trains are being moved to make way for one of the most epic construction projects in the US. A full tear out of all existing track is scheduled to begin March 1, 2019. The plan is start at the depot and remove track heading up the mountain. At the summit, they’ll repurpose their equipment and grade the rail bed coming back down. Then construction will start and head back up again.
The project is scheduled for completion May 1, 2021 . . . or rather we should say the Cog is scheduled to reopen that day. Considering the scale of the project and the elevation at which it will be done, we’re guessing they’ll be working right up until the Grand Opening. We here at PPRA get to “work” on the mountain pretty often, and we can tell you that just going up to shoot photos can be pretty strenuous over 10,000 feet (and we’re from here!)
The folks at the Cog have certainly taken the elevation into consideration and most all of the track workers they’ve hired are locals. They’ve been pretty awesome about their partnership with the local community, and have made lots of efforts to help Manitou Springs where they can.
One of our favorite things to come out of this part of the story: the Cog is donating all their old trains to various entities around town and the trains will all find a second life. The City of Manitou has secured a couple of them and there is talk of even repurposing one for a pedestrian bridge. Garden of the Gods Trading Post has gotten two of them and has plans to create dining spaces on their beautiful shaded patio. GE Johnson has three of them and they may become VIP seating at the new soccer stadium. Three of them have very fittingly gone to the Colorado Railroad Museum.
That’s all the excitement we have for now. We just have to sit back and wait for the Cog to get the project rolling. Folks have asked us what they can do to help. Well, at this point, I’d suggest we all pray for good weather. That handsome mountain of ours can throw curveballs at those workers any time of the year, and so much of this project’s timing will be at the mercy of our “exciting” Colorado weather.
Stay tuned for more updates as they get things rolling!
Update: November 29, 2018
We just got the news, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway plans to rebuild and open in 2021. We’ll update with more details as they become available. HURRAY!
Update: July 3, 2018
When the Cog closed in October, we really didn’t understand how extensive their maintenance needs were. Much like your family car, you get the oil changed regularly, you take it in for it’s recommended tune-ups, you get it checked whenever you hear an odd noise, but eventually, it’s just had too many miles and it’s time to replace it. Now imagine that your car has been driving up 8,000 feet in elevation, through all kinds of weather, multiple trips a day, everyday for 30 years straight. That’s a lot of hard miles! That’s precisely what the trains at the Cog have been up to, and a couple of the trains have been going for 50 years!
Plans had already been made to replace the trains themselves, a feat by itself considering they’re only made two places in the world, their starting price is several million dollars a piece and construction time is roughly two years. Adding to their challenges, the newer trains use a different kind of cog track than what we have here. Now not only are they replacing trains, but they have to replace the track as well. Keep in mind that track winds through otherwise undisturbed forestry land, with no road access. That means that all the materials used for the track will have to be taken up by train . . . trains that already need to be replaced. Couple that with the issues and hoops finding contractors willing and able to work at that elevation who have never had cog rail experience and you can imagine that they have quite a puzzle to solve.
We had hoped to see them back up and running by Memorial Day Weekend. As time passed and we learned more, we came to understand how important their closure was in light of how much maintenance was required to reopen. When the announcement came in March that they would remain closed for the summer and possibly for a couple of years, it really began to sink in. Between the sheer size of the project, all the different entities that would have to approve the project and the mind boggling cost (now estimated near $100 million!), the difficulties of doing the work at elevation, the struggles to get materials in place, we were starting to worry that it was just too much for one company to take on. How many years does it take to recover 100 million dollars? We were worried. You see the Cog is as iconic to us as the mountain it travels. After 127 years, no one living remembers it not being a part of the Pikes Peak experience. Generations of families have made the trip up the Peak by train, and any who have done it wish to share it with the next generation.
That’s why we’re so excited to inform you that plans are moving forward to repair the Cog. They still have many obstacles to overcome, most of which they have sussed out, but as these things go, there are always new problems to solve as you go along. Presently, the folks at the Cog are working to get contracts and agreements in place, so we’re still keeping our fingers, toes and eyes crossed that all goes well. We should know if the project is a go by the end of summer and if all is a go, they’re planning to open in the fall of 2020.
Stay tuned for more updates as we learn more!
Update: March 14, 2018
After months of maintenance, research and deliberation, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway has come to a difficult decision: The Cog will remain closed through the 2018 season. “We just need more time to make the best decision possible,” said Jack Damioli, CEO of The Broadmoor. After 126 years of operation, the time has come to reassess the overall infrastructure of the trains, the track, the depot, and the parking situation. “We’ve maintained a perfect safety record and it’s imperative to us that we keep it that way.”
The Obstacles of Working on the Cog:
There are a lot of different things to take into consideration when it comes to working on the Cog. The resources are very limited and all outside of the US for trains and replacement parts. The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of two cog railways in the United States, and one of only 40 in the world. Couple that with the difficulties of track maintenance at 14,000 feet or worse, transporting replacement materials without roads for trucks or other maintenance equipment to access the more remote areas of track, and you’ve got one heck of a coordination puzzle to solve.
“This project has become like an onion, the more layers we pull back, the more we uncover. It’s really quite complicated and we need more time to make sure that we’re doing this properly. There are a number of entities that will need to be involved in order to make this a success, and that’s a huge undertaking.”
We agree 100% Mr. Damioli, and like onions, this has also brought a tear to our eye. We here at Pikes Peak Region Attractions are all rooting for you, and we’re eager for your return!
Statement from the Broadmoor’s Pikes Peak Cog Railway
After 126 years of operation, The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has decided not to reopen this spring for the 2018, or for the foreseeable future. Over the past several months, the railroad has undergone a major evaluation and it has been determined that the infrastructure and equipment has run its course. The railroad is in the process of determining next steps and action plans for the future.
For further information, please contact The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway directly at 719-685-5401.
From November 13, 2017:
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).
For further information, please contact The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway directly at 719-685-5401.
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