Pikes Peak Cog Railway orders engines, cars, rail for $100 million rebuilding project

The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway has ordered three new engines, nine passenger cars and cog-rail and snow removal systems from a Switzerland-based manufacturer as part of the $100 million rebuild of the railway.

 

Stadler Bussnang AG announced in January that it had received the order for the rack-and-pinion diesel locomotives, the rail cars that will be configured to carry 240-260 passengers, cog-rail and snow removal systems. Stadler spokeswoman Charlotte Thalhammer said the components would be manufactured at the company’s plants in Switzerland, but a delivery schedule had not been set yet because the specifics of the order were still being worked out.

Gary Pierson, CEO of Oklahoma Publishing Co., parent company of The Broadmoor and cog railway, said demolition on the 9-mile railway will begin this spring, and Stadler will begin delivering rail late this year. Delivery of the snow removal equipment, locomotives and passenger rail cars will continue through early 2021, he said.

 

“Everything has been ordered for a complete replacement of the cog. These are the only people in the world who make this equipment since there are only 41 other cog railways worldwide,” Pierson said Thursday. With a tax deal worked out with the city of Manitou Springs, “the contract executed with Stadler, we are very happy to be now underway.”

 

The railway has been closed since 2017 while Oklahoma Publishing officials worked out the deal with the city of Manitou Springs to rebuild the tourist attraction. The railway is scheduled to reopen in May 2021, offering visitors a scenic trip from its depot in Manitou Springs to the new Summit House under construction atop Pikes Peak.

 

“I’m delighted. This is a great step forward, and I am looking forward to (the project) getting started,” Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray said Thursday.

 

Under the railway’s 50-year agreement with Manitou Springs, the excise tax on ticket sales will be capped for the first 25 years, starting at $507,500 and increasing gradually to $775,000. During the final 25 years, the cog would not pay less than a 3.8 percent tax on ticket sales and would pay 5 percent if it attracted more than 375,000 riders in any year.

The railway carried about 300,000 passengers in 2016 and more than 260,000 before it closed in November 2017.

The cog’s closure deprived the region of one of its top tourist draws and threatened a large stream of Manitou Springs’ tax revenue. The summit can still be reached by hiking on Barr Trail or from the Crags in Teller County, driving up the Pikes Peak Highway or taking a bus or shuttle. Construction work on the new Summit House also has reduced parking and prompted the city of Colorado Springs, which owns the highway and Summit House, to shuttle most visitors to the summit in vans.

 

Zalmon Simmons, inventor and founder of Simmons Beautyrest Mattress, completed the railway in 1890 after riding to the summit of Pikes Peak on a mule.

 

He thought after the two-day trip that there should be a more comfortable and “civilized” way to make the trip and got the idea of a train from the owner of a hotel where he was staying. Broadmoor hotel owner Spencer Penrose bought the railway in 1925.

 

The railway quickly became a staple for tourists visiting the Pikes Peak region and operated year-around from 2002 until it closed in 2017, when Broadmoor officials said the railway had “run its useful life” and needed to be replaced. At its peak times during the summer, the railway employed more than 100 people to carry 2,300 passengers a day.

 

Oklahoma Publishing and Clarity Media, which owns The Gazette, are both subsidiaries of Denver-based Anschutz Corp.

Source:  Gazette.com

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