Learn more about Rack railway
A cog railway, rack-and-pinion railway or rack railway is a railway with a special toothed rack rail or rack mounted on the railroad ties (sleepers), usually between the running rails. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels or pinions that mesh with this rack rail. This allows the trains to operate on steeply inclined slopes.
The first cog railway in the world was the Middleton Railway in Leeds where the first commercial steam locomotive, The Salamanca ran in 1812. This used a rack and pinion system designed by John Blenkinsop.
The first mountain cog railway was the Mount Washington Cog Railway in the US state of New Hampshire, which carried its first fare-paying passengers in 1868 and reached the summit of Mount Washington in 1869. The first rack railway in Europe was the Vitznau-Rigi-Bahn on Mount Rigi in Switzerland, which opened in 1871. Both lines are still running today.
 Rack systems
A number of different rack systems have been developed.
 Riggenbach rack system
The Riggenbach rack system, invented by Niklaus Riggenbach, is the oldest form of rack railway and uses a ladder rack, formed of steel plates or channels connected by round or square rods at regular intervals. The Riggenbach system was the first system devised, and suffers from the problem that its fixed rack is much more complex and expensive to build than the other systems. This system is sometimes known as the Marsh rack system, because of simultaneous invention by an American inventor, Sylvester Marsh, builder of the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
 Strub rack system
The Strub rack system, invented by Emil Strub, is similar to the Abt rack system but uses just one wide rack plate welded on top of a flat bottom T railway rail. It is the simplest rack system to maintain and has become increasingly popular.
 Abt rack system
The Abt rack system was devised by Roman Abt, a Swiss locomotive engineer working for a Riggenbach-equipped line, as an improved rack system. The Abt rack features steel plates mounted vertically and in parallel to the rails, with rack teeth machined to a precise profile in them. These engage with the locomotive's pinion teeth much more smoothly than the Riggenbach system. Two or three parallel sets of Abt rack plates are used, with a corresponding number of driving pinions on the locomotive, to ensure that at least one pinion tooth is always engaged securely.
Today, the majority of rack railways use the Abt system.
 Locher rack system
The Locher rack system, invented by Eduard Locher, involves gear teeth cut in the sides rather than the top of the rail, engaged by two cog wheels on the locomotive. This system allows use on steeper grades than the other systems, whose teeth could jump out of the rack. It is used on the Pilatus Railway.
 Von Roll rack system
The Von Roll rack system, by the von Roll company, is similar to the Abt system, except that the teeth in the single blade are cut to suit the gear geometry of either the Riggenbach system cog or the Strub system cog (or gear) wheels. Because of its simplicity, the Von Roll rack replaces the Riggenbach or Strub rack in new, or replacement, installations without the need to replace the cogs (or pinions) on the electric locomotives or EMU passenger cars.
Some rail systems, known as 'rack-and-adhesion', use the cog drive only on the steepest sections and elsewhere operate like a regular railway. Others, the steeper ones, are rack-only. On the latter type, the locomotives' wheels are generally free-wheeling and despite appearances do not contribute to driving the train.
 Cog locomotives
Originally, almost all cog railways were powered by steam locomotives. The steam locomotive needs to be extensively modified to work effectively in this environment. Unlike a diesel locomotive or electric locomotive, the steam locomotive only works when its powerplant (the boiler, in this case) is fairly level. The locomotive boiler requires water to cover the boiler tubes and firebox sheets at all times, particularly the crown sheet, the metal top of the firebox. If this is not covered with water, the heat of the fire will soften it enough to give way under the boiler pressure, leading to a catastrophic failure.
On rack systems with extreme gradients, the boiler, cab and general superstructure of the locomotive are tilted forward relative to the wheels, so that they are more or less horizontal when on the steeply graded track of the railway. These locomotives often cannot function on level track, and so the entire line, including maintenance shops, must be laid on a gradient. This is one of the reasons why rack railways were among the first to be electrified and most of today's rack railways are electrically powered.
On a rack-only railroad locomotives always push their passenger cars for safety reasons since the locomotive is fitted with powerful brakes, often including hooks or clamps that grip the rack rail solidly. Some locomotives are fitted with automatic brakes that apply if the speed gets too high, preventing runaways. Often there is no coupler between locomotive and train since gravity will always push the passenger car down against the locomotive. Electrically powered vehicles often have electromagnetic track brakes as well.
The maximum speed of trains operating on a cog railway is generally very low, about 25 km/h .
 List of cog and rack railways
- Mt Morgan - rack system existed until 1950s when deviated.
- SkiTube - in Snowy Mountains.
- West Coast Wilderness Railway in Tasmania, originally opened in 1896 to service the Mount Lyell copper mine and closed and completely removed in 1960s. Rebuilt and re-opened for tourists in 2003. Uses Abt system.
- Achenseebahn, Tyrol
- Erzbergbahn, Styria
- Gaisbergbahn, Gaisberg (1887 - 1928)
- Kahlenbergbahn, Kahlenberg, Döbling, Vienna
- Schafbergbahn, Upper Austria
- Schneebergbahn, Lower Austria
- Corcovado Rack Railway
- The Serra do Mar line, originally part of Estrada de Ferro Santos a Jundiaí, part of Rede Ferroviária Federal Sociedade Anônima (RFFSA) 1957-1997, now owned by MRS Logística
- Ferrocarill Arcica La Paz, Arica–La Paz
- El Ferrocarril Trasandino Los Andes - Mendoza, Los Andes - Mendoza The rebuild will be adhesion only.
 Czech republic
- Drachenfels Railway
- Hell Valley Railway (adhesion only since 1933)
- Wendelstein Railway
- Zahnradbahn, Stuttgart
- Zugspitze Railway
- Fogaskerekű Vasút in Budapest, Hungary is a kind of cog-wheel tram in the hilly Buda part of the city.
- Ikawa Line, Oigawa Railway
- Usui Pass was the first rack and pinion line in Japan, on the Shin-Etsu Line of the then Japanese National Railway. It was replaced in 1963 by a new parallel pure adhesion line.
 New Zealand
- Rimutaka Incline, a Fell incline railway, closed in 1955, and the trackbed has been turned into the Rimutaka Rail Trail, north-east of Wellington
- Large ships are guided through the Panama Canal Locks by electric locomotives known as mulas (mules), running on rack rails on the lock walls rather than proceeding under their own power. The new locks approved in 2006 will use tugs.
- AlpTransit Gotthard (ATG)
- Bergbahn Rheineck-Walzenhausen (RhW)
- Berner Oberland Bahn
- Brienz Rothorn Bahn
- Brünigbahn, (Lucerne to Interlaken)
- Brig-Visp-Zermatt Railway
- Chemin de fer Aigle-Leysin
- Chemin de Fer de Martigny au Châtelard (MC/TMR)
- Chemin de fer Martigny-Orsières
- Chemin de fer Montreux-Glion-Rochers-de-Naye
- Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke (DFB)
- Dolderbahn (Db)
- Glacier Express
- Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway
- Monte Generoso Railway
- Pilatus Railway
- Rigi-Bahnen (Arth-Rigi-Bahn)
- Rorschach-Heiden-Bahn, Rorschach to Heiden
- Schynige Platte Railway
- Zentralbahn (Zb)
- Zermatt to Täsch, part of BVZ Zermatt-Bahn
 See also
 United Kingdom
 United States
- Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway
- Mount Washington Cog Railway
- Mt Manitou Scenic Incline Railway Built in 1906, dismantled in 1990.
- Quincy and Torch Lake Rail Road #7 , cog rail tram built in 1896 (?). Diesel/hydrostatic drive. Hancock, Michigan.
- Green Mountain Cog Railway short lived cog railway on Mount Desert Island in Maine , closed in 1897
 Rack railways in fiction
The Culdee Fell Railway is a fictional cog railway on the Island of Sodor in The Railway Series by Rev.W.Awdry. Its operation, locomotives and history are at least in part based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. It is featured in the book Mountain Engines.
 See also
- Fell railway (friction wheels)
- Mountain railway
- Rack and pinion
- Hillclimbing (railway)
- Railroad switch
 External links
da:Tandhjulsbane de:Zahnradbahn es:Ferrocarril de cremallera fr:Chemin de fer à crémaillère id:Jalur rel gigi it:Ferrovia a cremagliera ja:ラック式鉄道 nl:Tandradspoorweg Cremalheira em ferrovias sv:Kuggstångsbana zh:齒軌鐵路