Bring back the Ski Train

The “Ski Train” from Denver Union Station to the base of the Winter Park ski resort, at the west portal of the historic Moffat tunnel, was a Colorado tradition for over 75 years. The train ran weekends and some additional days during ski season, with weekend service usually sold out. The train was sold to a Canadian firm at end of the 2009 season, due to a number of factors.

Since the loss of the Ski Train, much has changed that provides an opportunity for a return of this service: Union Station has been renovated into a dynamic transportation hub; light rail access has expanded; commuter rail lines to DUS will open in 2016. The demographics of people living in downtown and near light rail lines, rapid population growth of individuals with disposable income and people predisposed to using rail transit have occurred. Explosive growth along the Front Range places additional pressure on I-70 corridor, increasing commute time and stress on those wanting to drive. There is an increasing trend indicating individuals are choosing to limit their trips to the mountains. The market is ripe for a safe, fast, dependable, cost effective and enjoyable alternative to traffic!

These factors led to a cooperative effort by Amtrak, Winter Park Ski Resort, and the Union Pacific to run a two-day demonstration train dubbed the WPE during March 2015. Using Superliner equipment, both trains sold out in a matter of hours – carrying long time riders of the old ski train, individuals and families (many who had never ridden a train) including skiers and not skiers. The train was ADA accessible. Rider feedback was overwhelmingly positive – comfortable, safe, beautiful, great equipment, relaxing … a great adventure.

Amtrak ski train posterColorail participated in supporting the demonstration runs by co-hosting a pre-train visit by officials, working with key influencers and assisting in developing the business plan.

As one of our three transportation building block initiatives, ColoRail will continue to advocate for and provide appropriate support and energy to make the WPE become a scheduled service. Stay tuned for updates.

A Short History of the Ski Train

Download the brochure that ColoRail placed on the Winter Park Express.