(Re)constructing the Cog Railway

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Officials say everything is on schedule for the reconstruction of Pikes Peak Cog Railway as they pass a major step.

Crews have faced challenges as they transform the 125-year-old railroad. The only trips the cog railway takes today are in and out of the garage.

“They’re getting repowered, their transmissions have been overhauled they’re getting new flooring, new seating, new seating, new paint job a new PA system,” Assistant General Manager of Pikes Peak Cog Railway Ted Johnston said.

The work is being done at the base of the railroad then it is all uphill from there. is not a single steel rail on the side of Pikes Peak anymore, it’s all sitting in this pile right by the start of the incline.

“We got the track, that’s our number one priority that’s what we’re dealing with on a day to day basis,” General Manager of Pikes Peak Cog Railway Spencer Wren said.

The only trips the cog railway takes today are in and out of a garage.

“We show up here to work in Manitou at the base and we’re in this canyon where it’s nice and pristine once you work your way up the mountain above treeline, the wind starts whipping, you never know when a storm could suddenly just roll in over the summit,” Johnston explained.

Weather systems at the summit track any pop up storms. While exertion at elevation is something they try to control.

“Altitude affects everyone differently,” Johnston said. “If they don’t feel right, they just tell us and we take care of them.”

This is the new stuff, they’re going to start laying down besides being cleaner, it’s also stronger, one of the many upgrades they’ll have in place.

There is not a single steel rail on the side of Pikes Peak anymore, it’s all sitting in this pile right by the start of the incline.

On the recommendation from the company building the new summit house, Johnston and Wren called for pre-employment physicals as the crew has been ripping up rails and are about to lay down the new ones.

“It’s crazy to be able to drive up what used to only be able to take a train up. It’s a whole different experience. It also makes you realize how steep it really is.”

Grades of 25% in some places. The kind of climb is the reason for the Cog. The highest altitude and one of only two in the U.S.

“There’s a world wide team to assemble.”

From the depot to the tracks, the trains and the ride, parts and people helping from Poland, Germany and Switzerland are making this $100 million project possible.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have an owner who’s willing to put the kind of money that he is putting into this project because it’s an investment that’s going to take a long long time to pay back.”

For Wren, who started on the railway on the track crew three decades ago, the next 18 months may be the longest of his career.

“It’s a whole lot of work but it’s just going to be so wonderful when it’s completed.”

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