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Winter Park ski train set for 2016-17

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

There will once again be the option of taking the train from Denver to Winter Park during ski season starting Jan. 7.  Tickets go on sale August 30.

 

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/25/winter-park-express-ski-train-tickets/

 

"The details of the Amtrak Winter Park Express rail service:

  • 26 round-trips will run Saturday and Sunday, from Jan. 7 to Mar. 26, with Monday service on holidays in January and February.
  •  The 500-passenger Winter Park Express Amtrak train will leave Denver’s Union Station at 7 a.m., arrives at the resort around 9 a.m., leaves 4:30 p.m. and returns to Denver at 6:40 p.m.
  • Adult tickets start at $39 each way and children ages 2-12 ride for half price with a ticketed adult. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m., Tuesday Aug. 30 at Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress.
  • One-way tickets allow passengers to book single or multiple-day trips."

". . . It took almost 18 months of negotiations between the Denver-owned Winter Park ski area, Amtrak and rail owner Union Pacific to establish the new Winter Park Express on the 62-mile route that travels through the historic Moffat Tunnel. One critical point was the development of a wheelchair-accessible, ADA-compliant rail platform at the resort. Construction of the $3.5 million platform has begun. . . ."

post #2 of 23
This is something I'd do. Beats renting a car that costs more and may not make it through the snow.
post #3 of 23

Wow....$40 each way! No thanks I will keep driving up as needed. 

post #4 of 23

Probably something I'll try once or twice during the season. Makes even more sense if you stay up there for a few days. 

post #5 of 23
I'll try it once for old times' sake but it's about twice as much as it would need to be to make it a regular thing.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by thumpcbd View Post
 

Wow....$40 each way! No thanks I will keep driving up as needed. 


Exactly, this is an insanely high price.  Also, the ride time of 2:10 for a non-stop 60 mile journey is really bad.  Some will ride for the novelty and to avoid traffic.  The car alternative costs about $15 in gas and travel time (train plus Denver drive/bus) even in very bad traffic is similar. 

 

i70 is clearly a mess and is only going to get worse.  It also appears i70 expansion is very expensive.  It seems like the best return on investment would be to subsidize the trains to get cost down to $10, increase number of trains/day and rules to prioritize passenger over freight (among other things to reduce travel time)  I'm sure there are a lot of politics at play...

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

Would it make sense for a traveler to fly into Denver, stay there overnight, then take the train first thing on Sat or Sun morning?  Meaning for someone who is planning to spend the entire week at Winter Park and doesn't want to rent a car.  Then back to Denver the next weekend.

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Would it make sense for a traveler to fly into Denver, stay there overnight, then take the train first thing on Sat or Sun morning?  Meaning for someone who is planning to spend the entire week at Winter Park and doesn't want to rent a car.  Then back to Denver the next weekend.

Well, maybe if you stay at a hotel with a free shuttle to the airport and the train station.  It's $70 one way to take the Home James shuttle from the airport to WP so you'd save about $60 r/t.  Problem is the train station is right downtown but the airport is......not.

 

Quote:
 Also, the ride time of 2:10 for a non-stop 60 mile journey is really bad.

Goin' up a hill in a train ain't so fast.  Pretty cool trip, though.

post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post

 

Goin' up a hill in a train ain't so fast.  Pretty cool trip, though.

I've done the WP train and it is pretty cool.

 

That said, it doesn't have to be so slow.  They figure it out in Europe.  One example, Geneva to Zermatt averages 45 MPH (3:20, 134 miles).  That travel time even includes 12 stops and 12 minutes to transfer trains midway which means the train must be going 60+ for much of the route.   The route is not a perfect comparison but you get the idea...

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Would it make sense for a traveler to fly into Denver, stay there overnight, then take the train first thing on Sat or Sun morning?  Meaning for someone who is planning to spend the entire week at Winter Park and doesn't want to rent a car.  Then back to Denver the next weekend.

Well, maybe if you stay at a hotel with a free shuttle to the airport and the train station.  It's $70 one way to take the Home James shuttle from the airport to WP so you'd save about $60 r/t.  Problem is the train station is right downtown but the airport is......not.

Looks like there is a new way to get from DIA to Union Station downtown as of April 2016.  $9 one-way on light rail, running every 15 min during the day and every 30 min in early morning and late evening.  Takes about 30 min.  In theory, could stay in an airport motel and take a 5am ride into Union Station and have breakfast there.  Or spend a little more and stay in a downtown hotel near the train station.  There are a couple cheaper hotels about a 20-min walk, but I wouldn't want to do that lugging ski gear.  Lots of restaurants near Union Station since the free "mall" bus runs from there.

 

http://www.denver.org/about-denver/transportation/airport-rail/

 

http://www.denver.org/includes/content/docs/media/Airport-Rail---A-Line.pdf

 

http://www.rtd-denver.com/a-line.shtml

 

http://www3.rtd-denver.com/elbert/news/index.cfm?id=7605

" . . .The University of Colorado A Line is a commuter rail line, which will use new rail cars that will be the first of their kind in Denver. They are faster than light rail, with a top speed of 79 mph versus 55 mph, are larger, and carry more people than light rail vehicles—200 people at maximum. The vehicles will offer level boarding to better accommodate travelers with luggage and accessibility needs.
The rail line will serve eight stations, including Denver Union Station and the new Denver Airport Station located at the south terminal at DIA serving airport travelers and guests of the new Westin Denver International Airport Hotel. . . ."

post #11 of 23

I've rode it in the winter and I've rode it in the summer.  Yep, it use to run in the summer too.  About as cheap as I can remember it being was $45 round trip?  Certainly not as cheap now as when the Eskimo Ski Club used it.   I will definitely take advantage of it when heading to WP.  Especially if I see a weather report that is predicting really bad road conditions.

 

Yes freight has priority, or it has in the past and you may get side car'd.  It does add to the time but overall not a bad deal albeit a bit $$$. 

 

@marznc, it is definitely something worth giving serious thought to if flying in to stay a week at WP.  You would have to plan your trip carefully to take the train the whole way from DIA.  Like you mentioned, flying in on a Fri or Sat and staying overnight at the airport or near Union Station would be key.  You could stay at the airport and catch the just before 6:00 a.m. light rail and be at Union Station at 6:30 a.m. providing they don't have one of their outages.  I think outbound from WP would be easier and you may even be able to fly out the same night.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by UllrIsLord View Post

I'll try it once for old times' sake but it's about twice as much as it would need to be to make it a regular thing.


Yeah but that's the point.  They and Intrawest don't want it to be a regular thing.  Starting after the holidays should be a clue. They also will only do Sat. and Sun. They will be using an Amtrak train instead of the old Rio Grand.  It's not the same thing, but it's a good thing for Winter Park.  People can fly into DIA, catch the train from their to Union, switch trains, and step off at the base.  It's pretty cool and quite unique but unlike the old days, this is upscale mass transportation, not the econo-coach thing they had going in the old days.  

post #13 of 23

Rather see a ski train that costs too much than no ski train at all. 

 

There was a time there were ski trains all over the country, that was good. This and Whitefish are all I know of now in the States.

 

Does anyone know any more?

post #14 of 23
Wow, $78 round trip? Really makes me glad to be a CU Boulder student, $5 round trip ski bus tickets to different Val Resorts mountains on weekends.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdtj View Post
 


Yeah but that's the point.  They and Intrawest don't want it to be a regular thing.  Starting after the holidays should be a clue. They also will only do Sat. and Sun. They will be using an Amtrak train instead of the old Rio Grand.  It's not the same thing, but it's a good thing for Winter Park.  People can fly into DIA, catch the train from their to Union, switch trains, and step off at the base.  It's pretty cool and quite unique but unlike the old days, this is upscale mass transportation, not the econo-coach thing they had going in the old days.  

Why wouldn't they and Intrawest want it to be a regular thing? Also, who is "they"? 

 

I do think that a train that is too expensive is better than no train. I'd love it to be cheaper and have a much more expanded schedule such as first weekend in December to the first weekend in April with Friday trains during the high season. I'd also like to see it much cheaper. 

 

I hope it is a success. 

post #16 of 23

I don't understand the scheduling. 7:00 am is too early to be convenient for most people flying in to Denver, meaning they have to add a night's stay in a hotel, which just adds more hassle and expense to a trip. And the 6:40 return to Denver seems a bit late for people trying to get out to the airport for their flight home. The scheduling looks more like it's targeting day-trippers from Denver, but the price and travel time both seem too high for that market.

 

So, I don't really understand who their target market is. If they want to target destination skiers, then they should probably have the departure from Denver later in the morning or closer to mid-day and the return from WP leaving earlier in afternoon. That way, people would be less likely to need to spend an extra night in the city on the way out or back.

post #17 of 23

It's all run by Amtrak now. So if they don't make the "ski train," then they can catch the California Zephyr at Union Station in Denver.  It drops them off in Fraser, but many hotels send shuttles upon notification.

post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

When the the train used to run (back before 2009)?

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdtj View Post

It's all run by Amtrak now. So if they don't make the "ski train," then they can catch the California Zephyr at Union Station in Denver.  It drops them off in Fraser, but many hotels send shuttles upon notification.

That's true. The Zephyr runs daily but it leaves Union Station just an hour later, at 8:05. Still might have trouble getting there in time flying in the same day. Then again, adding an extra day in Denver might be a good idea to get used to the altitude and there's plenty to do downtown.
post #20 of 23

Gary DeFrange and Intrawest worked VERY HARD and had to jump through alot of hurdles over a period of years to get this going again.   Believe me Intrawest wants this bad (and their global HQ is just across the street from Union Station).  The resort, specifically the Tour Center, lost alot of business due to the loss of the train foot traffic.  Loss of 900 customers per day. That's what happens when your local billionare stops subsidizing/owing the ski train.

 

The new 3.5 million dollar train platform currently being built at the resort had to be built before Amtrak or Union Pacific would sign off on this.  The platform was funded by Intrawest, the City of Denver, and the Colorado Dept of Transp.  Winter Park is owned by the City and County of Denver.  And $22 million in insurance coverage was also demanded by Amtrak.

 

The schedule and times are dictated by the UP freight schedule since THEY OWN THE RAILROAD TRACKS.  The City of Denver owns Moffat Tunnel.  Lotsa coal shipped on these rails in winter.  Just don't even compare this to Europe - different system.   AND Union Pacific sets the track speeds.  Safety is priority for them and they know the safe track speeds for those rails.  They've had very few wrecks along that stretch.

 

If someone thinks $15 is the true commute cost, mommy and daddy must be paying for all the wear and tear on the vehicle.  Tires, and engine maintenance are not cheap unless you own a repair shop.  I can post the bills up to prove it.

 

Amtrak is subsidized by federal tax dollars and has been since 1972.

 

The cost is the same as the old Ski Train.    Take the  California Zephyr to Fraser/Winter Park and you'll see the cost is the same.   Home James isn't cheap and neither is Colorado Mtn Express to any resort.

 

Why start the train schedule early season?  The snow doesn't get good till after Christmas.    Perfect business practice.  Besides - they need to finish building the platform first.   I'll try to get pictures of it after returning employee orientation in November.

 

Want to leave Denver early - take the Winter Park Express train and get dropped off at the resorts new train platform at the base area.  Want to leave later - take the Calif Zephyr and get dropped off at the depot in Fraser.  Take the free bus system to the resort.

 

And thank you Union Pacific for restoring Locomotive 844.     

 

She's beautiful  


Edited by daysailer1 - 9/1/16 at 10:46am
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by daysailer1 View Post

 

The schedule and times are dictated by the UP freight schedule since THEY OWN THE RAILROAD TRACKS.  The City of Denver owns Moffat Tunnel.  Lotsa coal shipped on these rails in winter.  Just don't even compare this to Europe - different system.   AND Union Pacific sets the track speeds.  Safety is priority for them and they know the safe track speeds for those rails.  They've had very few wrecks along that stretch.

 

If someone thinks $15 is the true commute cost, mommy and daddy must be paying for all the wear and tear on the vehicle.  Tires, and engine maintenance are not cheap unless you own a repair shop.  I can post the bills up to prove it.

 

 

Thanks Daysailer, lots of good background in your post. 

 

Your point about true car costs is fair.  A lot of people only consider the gas costs because they see the other costs as fixed (which is only partially true).  Typical true corporate/govt. rates are 50 cents a mile.  At that rate you're still comparing costs of $30/car to $40/per person.  For a group of 4 that's $30 vs. $160.  Ouch.

 

While UP owns the tracks, that doesn't mean they're free from regulation.  In fact, the law actually currently prioritizes passengers but it isn't followed.  http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Amtrak-has-priority-over-freight-but-5923268.php

 

Both subsidization and prioritization issues above shows that passenger rail isn't a priority in the US like it is in other countries

post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 

Turns out the price is not $39 each way.  Or perhaps not all the time.  Put in for a Round Trip Jan. 14-15 and this is what the cart looked like.

 

post #23 of 23
Yeah turns out it said starting at $39 one way. Shucks.
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