Cog Railway?

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May 8, 2014
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manchester nh
just my opinion, but it seems to me that one trip up to Mt. Washington on the train would cause more pollution to the environment than many many autos. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. If it’s true, where is the outrage? Is it only because of money?🤷‍♂️
You need to be specific on which Cog railroad trip you are referring to. The cog still runs coal fired steam trains for train buffs during off peak hours for rail fans, but the majority of the trips are driven by diesel electric locomotives disguised as the old steam locomotives. It is quite noticeable between the two, the diesel cogs sound like an diesel excavator climbing the mountain and the steam whistle sounds like a tractor trailer horn. The cog burns a blend of mostly diesel with some small percentage of biodiesel and they refer to burning "biodiesel"in their advertising. There is no legal definition that I am aware of as to what percentage constitutes "biodiesel" so its a legit claim but IMHO they should really advertise the cogs as running a "biodiesel blend. Unless they are doing it voluntarily, the engines are not EPA Tier 4 required of most on and off highway mobile equipment as railroad locomotives are specifically exempt and under their own lagging requirements. The EPA has proposed getting rid of the exemption Regulations for Emissions from Locomotives | US EPA bit its being fought by the railroads as it would require replacement of most of the floot of locomotive and potentially increase fuel costs plus require DEF.

Tier 4 diesels are quite "clean" while I believe the cog is using an earlier standard, diesels inherently produce more NoX than gasoline engines and more PM 2.5 fine soot. If the EPA changes the rules I expect the Cog could convert to TIer 4 diesels, but the certification would be very expensive and difficult as there is not much demand for cog railroad engines.

From an emissions point of view, the diesel cogs are carrying a large car load of people up and down. I have not seen a study on per capita emissions generated between internal combustion engine cars going up the autoroad or and individual car driving up the cog, my guess is the cog has lower emissions per capita possibly by a large amount. The coal fired steam engines are a different story, they are going to create far more particulate emissions (thus the black cloud) and dependent on the source of coal, higher sulfur emissions both of which are non issues with modern gasoline engines. emissions per capita will be lot closer in this comparison but the emissions would be apple to oranges. I have been in the plume of the cog on occasions and "tasted" the sulfur int he air which I used to experience in industry so I expect the coal theya re burning has some percentage sulfur.

Ideally the cog would electrify the railroad and use regenerative braking on the way down. They probably have some regenerative braking in the diesel electric units they currently run but expect its limited. They could also adopt ancient technology used on the cable cars in San Francisco, where a car going downhill is effectively pulling another one up. Its a slight variation of a funicular.
BTW, I missed the last Coos County planning board meeting. This agenda item was interesting

Mount Washington Railway Company: Discussion regarding the process to propose an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance regarding minimum setbacks.

Not having to deal with setbacks or reducing them on future projects at the summit would save a major step in permitting as currently any proposal would have to go before both the zoning board for special exception and after being resolved would then go to the planning board for the heavy lifting.

Special exceptions are frequently poorly understood by volunteer zoning board members and over the year the NH supreme court had changed the interpretations for granting special exceptions. For many years granting a special exception was supposed to be rare and related to issues out of the control of the owner. Subsequent court cases swung it to be far more to grant it unless someone complains. The Cogs abutters are mostly the WMNF who seems to have adopted a hands off approach to cog operations, and the state which is actively supporting development adjacent to the summit and has discussed transfering land owned by the state adjacent to the summit to the cog to assist in the development.
I saw the cog recently on a hike up mt. Washington, and the amount of black soot coming out was incredible! It pissed me off !
I’m a mechanic for a company with a large fleet of on- and off-road diesel equipment, and the DEF systems have the most reliability issues. One problem is that if the DEF system fails the engine will derate or make less power. A LOT less power. This doesn’t sound like something you want happening on the side of a mountain.

As far as the coal-burning locomotive, it needs to go away and to hell with railroad buffs. If the smoke is that important to them then they’re no better than the dirtbag Harley riders and their childish glee at making the maximum amount of noise possible. When I can hear bikes on Route 16 from the Glen Boulder they’re too loud.
Lets keep this on the topic not on individual posters
I saw the cog recently on a hike up mt. Washington, and the amount of black soot coming out was incredible! It pissed me off !
You should go back home or leave the bad atitudes there.
Ok, maybe we don’t need to have emission controls or inspections on our vehicles. I don’t like the hypocrisy.

How come the tree huggers aren not weighing in?🤷‍♂️
There was a group of antique steam powered cars that were visiting the whites last week, some of them were spewing out just as much black smoke. The US generally does not require retrofit of existing air emission sources. The general regulatory approach is put limits on the new equipment and let the old ones fade away. Generally, to require a retrofit of existing equipment is only done when measurable harm is being done. In the case of the cog, the black smoke is probably offensive to many but I expect that trying to actually measure degraded air quality and "harm" would be very unlikely. The reality is the cog has substantially reduced the number of steam trains in recent years replacign them with substantially cleaner diesels, further reducing impact and they have loyal base of rail fans that are willing and interested in riding up the mountain in anachronism. My bet is the air quality at NH Speedway during at a Nascar race is far worse.

In the case of coal fired power plants, harm to the public was proven and various regulations have ratcheted down the emissions limits to the point where may cannot be retrofit economically. In this case its an economic decision to spend the money or shut the plant down. Since the cog probably does not do harm its highly unlikely that a case could be made to force them to retrofit. If on the other hand enough people complain to the point where the cog is losing ridership than they will eventually stop running them. The base station road from the intersection of Mt Clinton and Mt Jefferson roads back to RT 302 is public property so feel free to gather a group together and run an informational picket line informing the public to vote with their dollars. My guess is it would not be successful.
just my opinion, but it seems to me that one trip up to Mt. Washington on the train would cause more pollution to the environment than many many autos. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. If it’s true, where is the outrage? Is it only because of money?🤷‍♂️
The Cog is an integral part of both Mt. Washington and NH history, dating back to the 1800's. Not only is the pollution really fairly low in the grand scheme of things, sometimes something is so valuable, you don't knit pick the details. You should look into the history of the Cog and maybe, that would give it some value to you and you can look the proverbial other way. Tradition in a world that seems to be slipping into a dark abyss is more valuable than ever.