The Ski Train was a seasonal passenger service operated by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the period 1940-2009. Starting in 1988, the train was operated by the Ansco Investment Company, which had in turn purchased the Ski Train franchise from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in that year.
The train was instituted by the railroad in 1940 and ran from Union Station in Denver, Colorado for 56 miles (90 km) to the ski resort town of Winter Park, Colorado. The train's scenic route left Union Station and traveled through northwest suburban Denver, generally parallel to South Boulder Creek, past Pinecliffe and Rollinsville.
The route climbed about 4,000 feet (1,200 m) and passed through 29 tunnels before reaching the final mountain underpass, the 6.2-mile (10.0 km) long Moffat Tunnel. This is the highest railroad tunnel in the United States and the third longest, After the Cascade Tunnel in Washington state and the Flathead Tunnel in Montana. It passes under the Continental Divide.
The train stopped less than 100 yards (91 m) from the base of the ski lifts of Winter Park Resort. There was one trip in each direction per day, with a travel time of 2 hours and 15 minutes, assuming no delays from freight rail traffic.
The Ski Train carried skiers to Winter Park Resort from December through March each ski season between 1940 and 2008-2009.
2009 Change of Ownership
The Ski Train made its final run to Winter Park on March 29, 2009. The Ski Train equipment was sold to Algoma Central Railway Inc., a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway. Ironically, the Ski Train's cars had been originally built in 1968 by Hawker Siddeley for use on CN's Tempo trains.
The Ski Train was burdened with escalating costs such as liability insurance coverage, operational conflicts with freight traffic, and substantial uncertainties posed by redevelopment of Denver's Union Station. These reasons combined with the worldwide economic maladies in 2009 meant that it was no longer feasible for the Ski Train to be operated.
Iowa Pacific Holdings
Iowa Pacific Holdings (IPH), a holding company that owns railroad properties across North America and the United Kingdom (including San Luis & Rio Grande in southern Colorado), made a bid to revive the Ski Train using an improved business model that utilized idle equipment from SL&RG's subsidiary, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Plans fell through due to Amtrak, who would be supplying staff, classifying the Ski Train as a commuter operation vs. an excursion train, resulting in higher liability insurance. Amtrak settled the matter in court on December 23, 2009, five days prior to the first day operations were to commence (December 27). Full refunds were made by IPH.
The former Ski Train F40PH locomotives and most passenger cars are now in use on the Algoma Central Railway's Agawa Canyon tourist train and the equipment has been refurbished and repainted to Algoma Central livery.
- The Denver Post, All are aboard plan to revive Ski Train runs
- The Denver Post, Colorado Ski Train revival gathers steam
- The Denver Post, Problems derail revival of ski train
- Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Agawa Canyon tour train to be refurbished, repainted
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