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Winter Park Ski Train closing for good after 69 years - Page 2

post #31 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post



I used to get on that train at Rocky Flats (the Boulder pickup) almost every Saturday for years.  We skied Winter Park on Saturday (sometimes with Eskimo Ski Club, which really was the driving force of the train), and Arapahoe on Sunday.  The train ride was almost as fun as the skiing.  There was really very little supervision.  Can you imagine hundreds of kids on their own train for two hours up and two hours back.  It was sooo much fun.  We were not nice to that train.  But we had fun waiting by the tracks and letting the train flatten pennies as it rolled to a stop to pick us up.  And it was also fun throwing stuff at the Denver kids hanging out the windows in the evening as the train dropped us off.

Sometimes, I would quit skiing early and go throw snowballs at the windows of the engine to get the engineer's attention.  They would let me climb up and ride in the cab while we went down to Tabernash to turn the train around to prepare for the trip home.

Years later when I was tending bar at Holiday Inn in Steamboat, a guy came in for a nightcap around 11 PM.  I asked him what he did and he said he worked for Denver & Rio Grande RR.  I told him that I used to ride their ski train from Boulder every weekend.  He lunged off his stool, came across the bar and grabbed me by the shirt, and said, "You're one of those rotten little shits that ruined my weekend every weekend.  I was a conductor on that train!"  We both had a huge laugh, with my profuse apologies.  
 

Thanks for sharing that story Weems.  That's hysterical!!!     
post #32 of 53
Still awaiting Amtrak approval but they've already started selling tickets for the new Ski Train.   Lots of pricing information in the Denver Post article.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13796183
post #33 of 53
While I think it's great that it looks to  be up and running again, I think they are missing an opportunity to make it even more useful and profitable. If they added stops at Rocky Flats and  Rollinsville, the locals would be far more likely to catch the train. I'd hate to drive to Denver to get the train if I was in the Boulder/Ned area.
post #34 of 53
I live in the Boulder area.  It's actually very quick and easy to get to Union Station to catch the train from Boulder. I did it a number of times last season so I could sell ski school lessons on the train.  Catch a RTD 'B' bus and it dumps you off 10 ft from Union Station.  No need to pay for parking at Union Station either.  Looks like I'll get to start doing it again in December.

Due to freight train schedules and other factors, a stop will never be added after Union Station.  I talked to the train crew and was told the horror stories when the Boulder stop existed.  People would show up late and delay the train.  Union Pacific owns the track.  They won't tolerate delays.   Also kids would be on the train without parents.  They couldn't just dump kids off the train with no-one to pick them up.  Kids were being left abandoned in white-out snowstorms.  We have real snowstorms here.  Sometimes the parents couldn't make the pickup due to the roads.  Hwy 93 is horrible to drive in snowstorms.  The winds can easily blow 80 mph and you can't see the road.  

There will never be a pickup at Rocky Flats or Ned.  sorry.  It just doesn't work for the train schedule - Union  Pacific's train schedule.  Those stops would add too much time.  As soon as the train unloads at Winter Park, it immediately heads off to Tabernash, gets turned around, and then gets side-tracked in Fraser.

CBS Channel 4 in Denver did a great news clip of the new ski train service.   http://tinyurl.com/yclegjp

The Rio Grande Scenic Ski Train has their website up too and is taking reservations.  http://www.riograndescenicrailroad.com/Ski-Train/Rio-Grande-Scenic-Ski-Train.html

Tickets are $34.00 if you book before Dec 24.

Edited by daysailer1 - 11/18/09 at 8:57am
post #35 of 53
It's just about a done deal our local paper up here said to expect the Ski Train to start rolling in December keeping the 70 year old tradition alive.  This is great news a lot of people discovered both skiing and Winter Park by riding the Ski Train.  Saw this blog about the train: http://rateskiareas.com/blog/09/26/train-kept-a-rollin/
post #36 of 53
It's official...she rolls again on December 27th    through March 28th



http://www.riograndescenicrailroad.com/Ski-Train/New-Train.html
post #37 of 53
Well after all that, and both the Rio Grande and Winter Park sites promoting it. It will not run this season after all 

http://www.riograndescenicrailroad.com/Ski-Train/Rio-Grande-Scenic-Ski-Train.html
post #38 of 53
 It's too bad that Amtrack couldn't work with the company that wanted to re-open the ski train, they were already selling tickets when Amtrack pulled the plug.  The Ski Train was how I discovered Mary Jane and started a life long love affair.
post #39 of 53

So I decided to open an old thread...

 

Is there now a ski train from Denver to Winter Park or not?

 

If you look on the Winter Park website it looks like there is a train running (Amtrak Zephyr), but no further information..

Cost, schedule, etc., anyone know?

 

 

Thanks

post #40 of 53

The California Zephyr stops at Fraser on its way through both directions... westbound it's scheduled about 10:15 am, and eastbound at like 3:15 pm. Amtrak's pricing is pretty opaque--depending on availability and demand for specific dates, the price will vary, but I don't think you'll find much under $50 for Denver-Fraser. And there's a lot of space between San Francisco and Chicago for the trains to get delayed, so those schedules are pretty much aspirational, rather than accurate. I'd say it's a decent option if you're looking at traveling a medium to long distance (sleeping on the train rather than driving/staying in a motel can save money), but for a day trip from Denver, it's almost certainly more efficient to just rent a car or take a shuttle.

post #41 of 53

^^^^Agreed.

 

I've taken the Zephyr to WP a couple dozen times over the last decade and just wanted to add that IME it's usually on time heading west and usually late, and sometimes VERY significantly late, heading east.

 

Doesn't seem like a very good option for a day trip (like the Ski Train was)  but might work out OK for someone wanting to spend two or more nights in WP.

post #42 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
 

^^^^Agreed.

 

I've taken the Zephyr to WP a couple dozen times over the last decade and just wanted to add that IME it's usually on time heading west and usually late, and sometimes VERY significantly late, heading east.

 

Doesn't seem like a very good option for a day trip (like the Ski Train was)  but might work out OK for someone wanting to spend two or more nights in WP.

 

Yes, don't plan on trying to ski the same day you ride the train out from Denver.

 

Even if the train is on time in Denver, the line between Denver and Winter Park (known as the Tunnel District) is at capacity and commonly backs up. Be prepared to wait in the hole at a siding for hours waiting for a slow freight to trundle by- Or several.  Many of the sidings along the route are not long enough to fit 100+ cars of a unit freight, but do fit a much shorter Amtrak consist, so it is the Amtrak that sits in the hole waiting for the line of slow freights to clear the main.

 

I've ridden Amtrak DEN to Glenwood a few times- with lots of people getting off at Fraser to ski.  Both times the train arrived in Denver on time.  Both times we were very late to Fraser (1-2:00 arrival, and then you need a bus ride a dozen miles to the ski area).

 

If you plan on train days being about the journey and not skiing, it should work ok.

 

As far as using Amtrak to go skiing, I like Glenwood Springs a lot better for that. Denver to Glenwood is one of the most gorgeous routes that still has passenger service, and much of the route is only accessible by rail. The tunnel district, Gore and Glenwood canyons are amazing, and you can see much more in an observation car than you can in an auto. From Glenwood, you have great bus service to anywhere between there and Aspen- far more robust than what you get in Winter Park (of course up there, you have less need to go very many places). Amtrak plus ski/swim/stay deals at Sunlight make for a unique and exceptionally cheap ski vacation.

 

At times, I've gotten normal non-sale tickets for less than what gas would cost to get me too and from Denver to Glenwood, other times I have priced it and found it much more expensive. Kind of a crap shoot there, but for the scenery it is worth the premium.

 

I will say it is a lovely way to travel home with tired legs- I am 6'1" tall, and in a coach seat, I can stretch my legs straight out and not hot the seat in front of me.

post #43 of 53

Hm.

 

Denver to Glenwood Springs >  Aspen sounds like an option. It's on the MCP...

 

I usually spend at least 3-4 days at a place, so a train day on both ends is ok.

I miss the trains in Europe.

 

Thanks everyone

post #44 of 53
post #45 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by jc-ski View Post
 

http://www.skinet.com/ski/article/ski-train

 

Fingers crossed.

 

Amtrak would need to be more on the ball about being on-time, although I hear this is getting better.

 

If Amtrak gets into the ski train business, they can expand a lot further than WP.  Beaver Creek/Avon has rails, and currently rails run 1 mile away from Vail in Minturn- either a shuttle or an extension could bring service to the base.  The only wrinkle is that rail service from Denver cuts into this line at Dostsero (40 miles W of  Vail) and would require a backtrack up the Eagle River valley.

 

Glenwood Springs has rail service as part of the Zephyr, but could be brought online if one is creating ski train service to Vail. One shame is that Aspen HAD rails that were donated to RFTA (valley transportation authority) to use as future commuter service roughly a decade ago. RFTA instead tore them out for a bike path, which in my eyes was incredibly shortsighted and wasteful.  However, even without rail service into Aspen, there is very robust bus service in the valley that makes getting off at Glenwood very doable (I have done it).

 

The I-70 problem will only continue to get worse, and nobody is willing to put up funds to fix the problem. Meanwhile, we have rails running to several major resort complexes. Maybe traffic isn't bad enough right now to make a dogleg route to Vail profitable, but I bet it could be in the near future... Or the State of CO decides they want to subsidize it...

 

Personally, if I was trying to go Denver to Vail on a weekend (I'm not, ever, but lets pretend), the idea of boarding a train after work with a bunch of skiers, having a few drinks, and kicking back in seats where I can extend my legs the whole way in front of me sounds like a hoot. I would much rather do that even if it took an extra couple hours, than be locked into a car stuck at the tunnel.

post #46 of 53

Eagle County Colorado should work toward purchasing the idle railroad track/right of way running from Dotsero to Minturn. 

 

It could be used to connect Eagle Cty Airport to Beaver Creek and Vail with some short extensions and modifications. 

 

It could also be used to provide commuter service in the valley. 

 

Minturn has an existing 'yard' that could be used to service/store rail equipment. 

 

Dotsero has a connection to the main line from Denver/Grand Junction.  A station could be built to allow transfer from AMTRAK. 

post #47 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ali pine View Post
 

Eagle County Colorado should work toward purchasing the idle railroad track/right of way running from Dotsero to Minturn. 

 

It could be used to connect Eagle Cty Airport to Beaver Creek and Vail with some short extensions and modifications. 

 

It could also be used to provide commuter service in the valley. 

 

Minturn has an existing 'yard' that could be used to service/store rail equipment. 

 

Dotsero has a connection to the main line from Denver/Grand Junction.  A station could be built to allow transfer from AMTRAK. 

 

You would think this would be obvious (and likely the Minturn/Dotsero trackage could be purchased for a song if not donated outright to get UP out of the property taxes), but apparently Vail and/or the communities around Vail mountains are only interested in Colorado taxpayers spending billions to try and run rail up an 8* grade along the I-70 corridor.

 

I also have a fantasy that an operator buys the Pueblo-Dotsero tracks specifically for an ultra luxury ski train that serves all of the front range. Again, the trackage could be had for a song, and it would be in the state's interest to mitigate property taxes to make such an enterprise pay the bills.  

post #48 of 53

I wish they would bring the ski train back.  We had used it in the past both during winter and summer.  I think the cost was $75 for this 1 time event which was a bit more than the $40 or $45 we paid when it was running.  I'm not sure of the real story behind why it stopped.  I've heard different media spins but I have no clue to the real reasons.  Some blame the Union Station remodel.  Some the airport expansion and added traffic to Union Station.  Some just pointed fingers at UP.

 

I think brining it back and adding the services others mention above would go a long way in helping relieve the I70 parking lot.  Nothing I like more than sitting on I70 for half a day in a snow storm because of all the accidents.

post #49 of 53
For WP 75th Amtrak semi publicized running a commemorative ski train. All 450 seats sold out I'm about 10 hours. Amtrak was impressed so they did it agai and it sold out even faster. Both trains ran a couple weeks ago.
post #50 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdtj View Post

For WP 75th Amtrak semi publicized running a commemorative ski train. All 450 seats sold out I'm about 10 hours. Amtrak was impressed so they did it agai and it sold out even faster. Both trains ran a couple weeks ago.

 

... which doesn't mean daily or even weekend service would draw enough passengers to pay the bills, but there is demand there, and from a public policy standpoint, I see the need for non-auto transportation only growing- either because of I-70 congestion or energy price increases.

 

The old ski train was really a labor of love for Philip Anschutz, who formerly owned the entire Rio Grande system, along with many other things. Guys worth 12 billion dollars can afford to hold onto businesses that don't really turn a profit (I heard rumors for years that the ski train didn't pay for itself) but I think the combination of forces involved pushed it over the edge.

 

The Moffat Line has been run at capacity pretty much since UP bought the Rio Grande.  It saw a lot less traffic during the Southern Pacific/Rio Grande era because the primary interchange to lines East was in Pueblo- and trains used Tennessee Pas to get there.  The Moffat line is very limited in the way of passing tracks, and topography makes that a very difficult problem to address.  Further, most passing tracks will accommodate a short passenger consist, but not the 100+ car unit freights that are the primary traffic on the line.

 

Thankfully, slow freight aren't really bothered by having to wait in the hole for 2 hours for another slow freight to clear the mainline. However, passengers trying to get to a mountain to ski get PISSED when this happens. And it does happen. It used to happen all the time to Amtrak, but I hear that has gotten a bit better now that the govt has called on railroads to actually try to manage traffic to let passenger trains through in accordance to some semblance of their schedule.

 

So, Anschutz was operating a passenger train on an at-capacity line, on track that he no longer owned (and I've heard rumblings that him and UP management have not seen eye-to-eye after the sale).  This line often requires that the passenger train be the one to hold because it will fit into the available sidings. UP isn't going to spend millions to upgrade the line for 3rd party passenger service (Amtrak and Ski Train) to have more reliable schedules.

 

So... I think when Union Station was going to be closed for remodel, that was the last straw. Increasing problems with train routing, no station to pick up passengers, increased liability costs, screw it.

 

All that said, I think it is possible for somebody to do this. Travelling by train to ski is fun, and the line from Denver to Grand Junction is simply amazing. Sell the adventure and sell the amenity, structure arrivals and departures to work for skiers, and I think you can have a successful operation.

post #51 of 53


It's going to get a lot more "possible for somebody to do this."  RTD  is nearing completion of a line from DIA to Union Station.  And I don't know if you have had a way to notice, but the I-70 corridor is becoming an absolute weekend nightmare.  The twin tunnels and bridge expansion created bumper-to-bumper driving in Idaho Springs.  I-70 is in desperate need of renovation and lane widening. There is constant droning from state and local governments for people to use mass transit that is sorely lacking. The demand for the ski train will only increase.

post #52 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

I wish they would bring the ski train back.  We had used it in the past both during winter and summer.  I think the cost was $75 for this 1 time event which was a bit more than the $40 or $45 we paid when it was running.  I'm not sure of the real story behind why it stopped.  I've heard different media spins but I have no clue to the real reasons.  Some blame the Union Station remodel.  Some the airport expansion and added traffic to Union Station.  Some just pointed fingers at UP.

 

I think brining it back and adding the services others mention above would go a long way in helping relieve the I70 parking lot.  Nothing I like more than sitting on I70 for half a day in a snow storm because of all the accidents.

It was $75 a head back when they stopped, too. That's why we never took it: it's a little pricey for a family of four.

post #53 of 53

Yup, that's a little steep for most folks!

 

More ski train stuff...

 

http://blog.liftopia.com/blog/ticket-ride-7-ways-travel-ski-train

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