Winter Park Ski Train won’t return, at least for now |

Winter Park Ski Train won’t return, at least for now

Drew Munro
Sky-Hi Daily News
With wire reports
Grand County, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News File Photo
Sky-Hi Daily News | Sky-Hi Daily News

Optimism about the revival of the Ski Train to Winter Park, a new version of which was scheduled to resume service on Sunday, Dec. 27, has given way to nervous anticipation in the wake of a court ruling Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn rejected a request by Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC for a temporary restraining order against Amtrak so it could get the Ski Train rolling. He said the company had not convinced him that it would prevail in its lawsuit against Amtrak, which was negotiating with Iowa Pacific for crews.

The lawsuit is still pending.

Winter Park Resort officials said they are hopeful that Iowa Pacific Holdings and Amtrak can work out their differences.

“Ski Train service has a 69 year history with Winter Park Resort and we would like to see it continue into the 70th year and beyond,” said Mistalynn Lee, Winter Park Resort communications manager.

The resort is not a party to the contract between Iowa Pacific and Amtrak.

Lee said the Ski Train brought about 24,000 passengers to Winter Park during the 2008/2009 season, almost 17,000 of whom were skiers or snowboarders.

Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce officials, interviewed for a story that was set to run in the Sky-Hi Daily News earlier this week but which was canceled due to the lawsuit, had expressed great optimism about the marketing approach Iowa Pacific was using.

The Town of Winter Park was even mulling the idea of partnering with the train, providing additional buses to help bring ski train riders downtown for shopping and activities.

Iowa Pacific claims that Amtrak is guilty of breach of contract because of “unforeseen demands,” including requiring $200 million in insurance that would cover terrorist attacks. The company had received more than 13,000 reservations for the season.

Amtrak attorney Edwin Aro argued during the hearing Wednesday that a contract with Iowa Pacific was never finalized.

“Standing here two days before Christmas, I feel like the Grinch, trying to take the Ski Train away,” Aro said.

Spokesman Marc Magliari said Amtrak believes the train can’t run until various safety issues have been resolved and Amtrak’s liability and operating requirements have been met.

Ski Train officials said they still hope to run this season, but in the meantime, customers with reservations can receive full refunds.

A company owned by billionaire Phil Anschutz operated the Ski Train until April, when it was dropped because of costs, schedules and other problems. The service has been offered for 69 years.

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