The Mount Washington Cog Railway and Conway Scenic Railroad are beneficiaries of loans from the New Hampshire Class III Railroads and Cog Railroads Revolving Loan Fund. The New Hampshire Executive Council voted yesterday to approve the loans.
The Cog Railway project benefiting from a $1.2 million loan will lay new 100lb (per yard) modern rail the entire 3.25 mile route to the top of Mount Washington, replacing 25 lb rail laid in 1874. The Conway Scenic project will tentatively offer $161,000 to help refinance the dome car Rhonda Lee.
The new rail on the Cog Railway will be 2600 times stiffer, according to the Cog Railway’s loan application. It will use Pandrol e-clips, which also make it stiffer. It will no longer need to be supported by maintenance intensive wood “side-pieces” which actually run underneath the length of the rail like a sidewise crosstie. The look of the track will change, appearing significantly more modern. The speed limit of 4.87 mph will not change.
“The benefits of this project are numerous. It will result in a smoother ride, lower future track maintenance and a significant reduction in damage to rolling stock, thus reducing maintenance costs substantially,” cog railway President Wayne Presby wrote in the railroad’s loan application. “In the 38 years I’ve been involved at the railway, this project in my opinion represents the highest cost to benefit of any project we have yet to undertake,”
While the loan was just approved, trackwork actually began in the spring of 2020 and is well ahead of a targeted mid-2021 completion date, according to the railroads website.
The railroad in 2019 built a custom re-railing car to accomplish the work (and make maintenance easier in the future). The 65′ car is enclosed but open to the tracks on the bottom and contains hydraulic tools a crane. Weather on Mount Washington can be dangerously extreme, so the car offers shelter and safety.
The $4 million New Hampshire revolving loan fund for railroad rehabilitation and equipment, created in 1994 has now exhausted available funds pending further repayment of existing loans. Previous loans were in 1994, 1997, 2002, 2013 and 2015. Loans are for 5-20 years.
Christopher has 15 years of railroad experience, starting as a Conductor on Cape Cod and 15 years of public policy advocacy and outreach work. Christopher is Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, communicating the vision of better trains to elected and government officials, community leaders and the public. Christopher is a consultant for freight and passenger planning and development projects including operating planning, federal grant applications, marketing, and public outreach.