COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The world’s highest cog railway will one day run again. That day will likely be sometime in 2021.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway carried passengers to the top of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak for 126 years. But it closed a year ago — its first winter closing in a decade — and has not re-opened since.
Operators announced Thursday that construction would begin next spring. A specific re-opening date has not been determined.
Managers of the attraction pointed to its unblemished safety record when they made the decision last fall to halt operations due to worn equipment.
“The railroad has undergone a major evaluation and it has been determined that the infrastructure and equipment has run its course,” railway operators said in a statement at the time of the closure.
Some of its trains are said to be 50 years old.
Repairs and upgrades were estimated at nearly $100 million, a number that dramatically clouded the railway’s future.
“Plans had already been made to replace the trains themselves,” according to the Visit Pikes Peak website, “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.”
Finding contractors willing to work at high altitude also posed problems.
But this summer, officials with The Broadmoor in Manitou Springs committed to invest in the repairs.
Denver-based Anschutz Corporation is parent company to The Broadmoor.
“After 127 years, no one living remembers it not being a part of the Pikes Peak experience,” states the attraction’s website. “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.”
The Cog first opened 126 years ago. The trains ascends and descends the 8.9-mile, 8,000-foot climb in three hours.
After it closed, the number of visitors traveling the mountain’s highway increased to record levels this year.
A cog train uses a gear, or cog wheel, to mesh teeth with a special center rail, allowing it to climb much steeper grades than standard rail systems.