Friday, April 15, 2011

On The Rack

One of the trains making its way up the mountain.
(Photo courtesy of the Corcovado website)
Inside one of the carriages.
(Photo courtesy of the Corcovado website)
Christ The Redeemer - with the station visible just below.
A view from the top on, sadly, a rather cloudy day.
For my final rail-oriented posting following my recent trip to Brazil, I will take a look at the rack or cog railway that climbs and winds its way through the Tijuca rainforest in Rio de Janeiro towards, almost, the 710 m summit of Corcovado mountain.
On top of this mountain stands, of course, the statue of Christ the Redeemer with magnificent views over the city of Rio and its beaches.
The line of the Trem do Corcovado was opened in 1884 by Emperor Dom Pedro II and was, initially, steam hauled before, in 1910, becoming the first railway in Brazil to be electrified.
Your journey commences at Estação Cosme Velho and the train takes around 20 minutes to travel the 3.8 km to the top, with two intermediate stations where trains pass each other. On our way up a 4-piece samba band boarded the train at the second of these two stops and then proceeded to entertain us for the remainder of the journey with their songs  and their music - fantastic!  
The track is 1000 m gauge and the railway uses four two-car trains, built in 1980 by SLM of Winterthur in Switzerland. These use 3-phase electric power (one of the few railways that still does) via two overhead cables at 800 V 60 Hz.
The trains depart, approximately, every 30 minutes and can transport (according to their website) 360 passengers every hour so that, at busy times, you can have a long wait at each terminus! When we went we had to wait an hour at Cosme Velho but only about half an hour for the return journey.
The railway is open from 08:30 until 19:00 each day of the week and, both for the ride and the view from the top, it is well worth the trip.
For more information visit the website at:

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