The modern age of the Manitou and Pikeís Peak Railway began with the requisition of railcars from the Swiss Locomotive Works in Winterthur, Switzerland. In the early 1960ís, as tourism began to increase in Colorado, the Railway needed additional equipment, but the General Electric Company was not interested in the project. Mr. Thayer Tutt, President of the Railway, traveled to Switzerland to arrange for the modern railcar acquisitions.
The first units to arrive from Switzerland were Nos. 14 and 15, which were put into service in 1964. They proved so successful that soon after, the Railway ordered two more nearly identical units, Nos. 16 and 17. These Swiss railcars are self-contained units, powered by two Cummins diesel engines mounted underneath the seating area. As with the GE locomotives, they are diesel-electric. Generators driven by the diesel engines provide the power to traction motors for the ascent. For the descent, the diesel engines are shut down and the traction motors work as generators. The electric power generated is consumed by resistor banks on the roof of the railcars.
A young Swiss engineer, Mr. Martin Frick, was also hired from SLM at this time. Over the next 30 years (until his retirement in 1991), Mr. Frick brought the Railway into the modern age. The Railway is deeply indebted to Mr. Frick for the years of his dedication and hard work. In addition to the first 80 passenger railcars, he did a major expansion of the shop facilities, oversaw the installation of new, modern switches in the yard (electric) and along the line (manual), designed and built (with the assistance of our shop personnel) snowplow #22, helped with the design and supervised the acquisition of four 214-passenger railcars and many other improvements too numerous to mention. Mr. Frick (as of April 2005) continues to help with Swiss and German transactions and offers expert advice. Once again, thank you Martin for your love of the Railway.
Bigger units were needed as tourism continued to grow into the 1970ís. The Manitou and Pikeís Peak Railway officials returned to Swiss Locomotive Works in 1974 with a request for a train which could carry over 200 people. The results were the articulated railcars Nos. 18 and 19. These cars resemble the smaller single units but are joined by a bellows in the middle. A key difference is that they are diesel-hydraulic. Power is provided by a transmission/retarder made by Voith Turbo of Germany, and the diesel engines must idle on the return trip. These units originally came equipped with a TwinDisc transmission and a stand-alone retarder by Voith but these have been replaced with the Voith T211rzze transmission which functions as a transmission going up and a retarder coming down. These first two modern railcars were put into service for the 1976 season; No. 24 was added in 1984 and No. 25 in 1989. As an adjunct to the arrival of the first big Swiss railcars, new switches were installed along the line. Prior to 1976, trains departed the Manitou depot only three times a day in the summer. The equipment needed to transport the number of passengers at the depot was brought down from the shop, loaded up and arrived together at the summit. With the sidings which were added at Minnehaha and Windy Point, trains can run up to eight times per day and pass along the line. Now, trains depart in mid-summer every eighty minutes, from 8:00 AM until 5:20 PM(See RatesTimes for exact dates.)
If you are interested in other Swiss railways, check our links page.
In the early days of the Railway, snow was a huge problem. It still is a problem (just not as much of one). Please check out this page for more
See more on current plowing here.
All photos and drawings (except Gornergratbahn, Zebulon Pike) are property of The M&PPRY.