Ski Train

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Ski Train
Service type Commuter rail
Status Ceased operation
Locale Colorado
Predecessor Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
First service 1940 (1940)
Last service March 29, 2009 (2009-03-29)
Current operator(s) Ansco Investment Company
Start Union Station (Denver)
End Winter Park Resort
Distance travelled 56 miles (90 km)
Average journey time 2 hours, 15 minutes
Service frequency daily
Line used Union Pacific Central Corridor
On-board services
Class(es) Coach, Club, Private
Catering facilities Cafe Lounge
Observation facilities Vista dome
Rolling stock Three EMD F40PH locomotives
Eight Coach cars
One Retreat car
Three Club cars
Two Cafe Lounge cars
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
A man standing in front of the ski train on February 12, 2006
Ski Train at Tabernash

The Ski Train (reporting mark SKTX) 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.

For the 75th anniversary of Winter Park, a special one-day-only Amtrak Winter Park Express Ski Train on Saturday, March 14, 2015, was announced on February 25; more than 450 seats sold out in less than 10 hours.[1][2][3] By popular demand, a second train was added for Sunday, March 15, and it also sold out quickly. [4] With demonstrated enthusiasm for the excursion train, there are renewed hopes that the Ski Train may again operate seasonally from the recently redeveloped Union Station public transit complex.[5][6][7] In April, Amtrak and Winter Park officials met to begin work on a proposal to track owner Union Pacific Railroad for running at least two trips weekly during January, February, and March 2016.[8] In mid-November, the official word was a hopeful "we're still working on it"[9] but a month later, with the 2015-16 ski season well underway, Colorado Public Radio reports "Ski Train Unlikely To Return This Season", even as Amtrak, Union Pacific and Federal Railroad Administration negotiations continue.[10]

2009 change of ownership[edit]

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 Tempos.

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[edit]

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.[11][12] 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.[13] Iowa Pacific sued Amtrak, which would have been found liable but settled the matter in court on December 23, 2009, five days prior to the first day operations were to commence (December 27), with a payment to Iowa Pacific. 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.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press (February 26, 2015). "Tickets sell out for train from Denver to Winter Park". 9News. 
  2. ^ Stanley, Deb (February 25, 2015). "Winter Park ski train returns - for 1 day - through partnership with Amtrak". 7News Denver. 
  3. ^ Blevins, Jason (February 25, 2015). "Amtrak revives Ski Train for one day to celebrate Winter Park's 75th". The Denver Post. 
  4. ^ Paul, Jesse (March 3, 2015). "Amtrak adds second Winter Park ski train trip from Denver". The Denver Post. 
  5. ^ Blevins, Jason (March 3, 2015). "2nd Ski Train sells out in 4 hours, stirs hope of Denver-to-Winter Park rail service revival". The Denver Post. 
  6. ^ Herbert, Kiran (March 3, 2015). "All Aboard the Winter Park Express". 
  7. ^ Biolsi, Peter (March 5, 2015). "All Aboard! Winter Park & Amtrak Revive Ski Train for Celebratory Journey". On The Snow. 
  8. ^ "Ski Train revival in the works after two sell-out weekends". Denver Post. April 20, 2015. Archived from the original on April 23, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Leib, Jeffrey (September 18, 2009). "All are aboard plan to revive Ski Train runs". The Denver Post. 
  12. ^ Leib, Jeffrey (August 5, 2009). "Colorado Ski Train revival gathers steam". The Denver Post. 
  13. ^ Leib, Jeffrey (December 29, 2009). "Problems derail revival of ski train". The Denver Post. 
  14. ^ Trains Magazine (November 17, 2010). "Agawa Canyon tour train to be refurbished, repainted". Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers. 

External links[edit]