Denver, CO – Less than a year after its former operator pulled the plug on the Winter Park ski trains, a new company has stepped forward to resume rail transit from Denver to the Front Range ski and snowboard resort.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (RGSR), which already operates scenic trains in southern Colorado, has made arrangements with all involved parties to run the ski train, which is operated for RGSR by Amtrak over rails owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. First-year contracts are still being finalized with Amtrak but the company is now taking reservations for the winter season, scheduled to begin Dec. 27 and continue on weekends, holidays and other select dates through Mar. 28, 2010.
The 2,000-seat trains will depart Denver’s Union Station at 7 a.m., arriving at the ski slopes 56 miles and a little more than two hours later, bypassing I-70 traffic and avoiding the snowy drive over Berthoud Pass. The route climbs about 4,000 feet and passes through 28 tunnels before reaching the final mountain underpass, the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel which is the highest railroad tunnel in the United States and passes under the Continental Divide. The train stops less than 100 yards from the base of the ski lifts of Winter Park.
Round-trip fares range from an introductory rate of $34 for an Early-Bird coach seat, to $94 for room with a 360-degree view of the Rockies in the dome car, including a continental breakfast en route to the slopes, après-ski snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Each train will carry two comfortable cafe-lounge cars, where coach passengers can purchase drinks and snacks.
The company is currently running a special “Ride and Glide” fare that includes a round trip coach ticket on the train and a lift ticket at Winter Park for $79. This ticket must be purchased before Christmas and must be used by Feb. 7, 2010. Ten-ride booklets and a limited number of $600 season passes are also being offered.
The former Denver-Winter Park ski train began operation in 1940 and continued until earlier this year, when former operator Anschutz Co. announced the train’s sale to Algoma Central Railway in Canada, shutting down the Colorado service.