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Corcovado Mountain Cog-Railway

Written by Peter Lauffer
January 13, 2021

It is impossible to imagine a trip to Rio de Janeiro without visiting the summit of Corcovado Mountain. The Corcovado Railway transports more than six hundred thousand people yearly to the top of the mountain.

From the top of the Corcovado, one enjoys stunning views of Rio de Janeiro and the spectacular surrounding landscape of mountains, beaches, and skyscrapers. Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and Corcovado Mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Brazil and even in all of South America.

Corcovado Rack Railway
Corcovado Rack Railway

History of the Corcovado Railway 

Towards the end of the 19th century, alpine countries built their first cogwheel railways to the top of mountains so that the mountains would be easily accessible and attract a large number of visitors. 

“Why not construct such a railway in Rio de Janeiro?” thought the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, in 1882. Dom Pedro gave the order to plan and build such a cogwheel railway, commissioning the railway to two Brazilian engineers, Teixeira Soãres and Francesco Passos. 

When the Corcovado Railway opened in 1884, the mountain was just one part of the beautiful landscape surrounding the city. The world-famous "Christ the Redeemer” statue was not completed until 1931 after a very long period of construction.

The railway was electrified in 1910 and became one of the earliest electrically operated railways in Brazil. 

Cosme Velho Railway Station Terminus Corcovado Train
Cosme Velho Railway Station Terminus Corcovado Train

About the Corcovado Railway

The railway starts in Cosme Velho, a scenic, affluent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. The train travels up from the Cosme Velho railway station, which lies at 40 meters (131 ft) above sea level, to the Corcovado Mountain summit at a majestic 710 meters (2329 ft) above sea level.

  • The total length of the railroad: 382km (238 miles)
  • Average gradient: 16.7%
  • The steepest section ascends at an angle of 30%

The railway’s rolling inventory of railcars dating from the 1970s was replaced in 2019 by new railcars manufactured by Stadler Rail of Switzerland. The new railcars have a maximum speed of 25km/h instead of the 15 km/h of the old ones, reducing travel time from 25 to 15 minutes. 

Corcovado Mountain with the "Christ the Redeemer” Statue and the railway line in front
Corcovado Mountain with the "Christ the Redeemer” Statue and the railway line in front

Visiting the Corcovado Mountain

Corcovado Mountain is one of Brazil's most famous sights and is for many travelers one of the main reasons to visit Rio de Janeiro. Not only does the visitor enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but the up-close experience of the iconic Christ The Redeemer statue is no less unforgettable. The statue is built in art deco style and is 30 meters (98 ft) tall, with horizontally outstretched arms spanning 28 meters (90 feet).

Visitors can reach the Corcovado Mountain summit either via the cogwheel railway or by taking a car through the Tijuca rainforest. 

The human-made Tijuca Forest is a tropical rainforest in the city and one of the world's largest urban forests, covering some 32 km². Emperor Dom Pedro II initiated the forest project in 1861. Prior to that, local farms used the Tijuca Forest region to grow sugarcane and coffee.

The Corcovado Cog Railway is one part of our once-in-a-lifetime trip, the "Grand Rail Tour of Brazil."

Corcovado Mountain Railway Station
Corcovado Mountain Railway Station


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