Could Winter Park Ski Train make a comeback?
WINTER PARK — Amtrak officials said they would “closely look” at the performance of a one-day Ski Train in March to inform their decisions about future service.
Hope they didn’t blink.
The Winter Park Express’ maiden trip sold out less than 12 hours after it was announced on Feb. 25, said Steve Hurlbert with Winter Park Resort.
Marketed as a one-off promotional event celebrating Winter Park Resort’s 75th Anniversary, the Winter Park Express will shuttle 400 passengers on a round trip from Denver to Winter Park Resort on March 14.
Though Amtrak has only mentioned one trip, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said its success will inform any possible decisions regarding additional service down the road.
“We’re going to closely look at how this excursion train performs and evaluate what could be done next season,” Magliari said.
And if performance can be measured by ticket sales, then Amtrak has something to consider.
The Winter Park Express’s 400 tickets sold out within 12 hours of going on sale. Adult fares for the round-trip cost $75.
Amtrak normally operates such “excursion trains” to supplement revenues for scheduled Amtrak service, according to a press release.
“Winter Park Resort’s very creation was predicated on the railroad, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate our 75th anniversary with this one-day return of passenger rail service from downtown Denver to the resort’s doorstep,” said Gary DeFrange, the resort’s president and COO, in the press release. “We are excited the Winter Park Express not only provides our guests an alternative to the traffic quagmire on I-70, but also for the potential it represents for rail service in the future.”
The train will depart Denver at 7 a.m. and arrive at Winter Park Resort at 9 a.m., leaving the resort at 4:15 p.m. to arrive in Denver at 6:15 p.m.
The Ski Train ferried visitors from Denver to Winter Park Resort for 69 years before it stopped service in April 2009.
The service ultimately fell victim to a dispute between Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC, which had tried to revive the train in 2010 after it had made its final run in 2009.
A December 2009 Sky-Hi News article stated that the train brought around 24,000 visitors to Winter Park Resort during the 2008/2009 season.
For more information about the Winter Park Express, visit Amtrak.com/winterparkexpress.
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