Weekend passenger train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park is back, with Amtrak, Winter Park Resort and Union Pacific Railroad having reached agreement to operate Winter Park Express trains from Jan. 7 through March 26, 2017.
The round-trips will run on Saturdays and Sundays, with an additional round-trip on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day. Winter Park Express trains will enable customers to skip the congestion and stop-and-go ski traffic on I-70 and U.S. 40 while enjoying a comfortable and scenic two hour ride on the historic route through Moffat Tunnel.
Adult tickets are as low as $39.00 each way and are available at Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress. The 500+ passenger Winter Park Express trains will depart Union Station at 7:00 a.m. and arrive at the resort at approximately 9:00 a.m., where customers can quickly collect their ski and snowboard equipment and be on the slopes in minutes. Winter Park Express trains will depart the resort at 4:30 p.m., enabling customers to enjoy the après ski experience with family and friends on their return trip, arriving in Denver at 6:40 p.m. All times Mountain.
Customers will have the flexibility for a day-trip, a weekend stay, or even a full week of enjoying the mountains. Two children ages 2-12 can ride for half-fare with each ticketed adult. Passengers with disabilities may book by calling 800-USA-RAIL. Group travel can be arranged by calling 800-USA-1GRP.
Operation of the Winter Park Express is possible thanks to the addition of a permanent, fully ADA-compliant train platform at the resort. Construction of this platform has already begun and it is expected to be completed in early December.
The project, which has a total budget of $3.5 million and includes other infrastructure improvements at the Union Pacific siding in Fraser, is an example of the collaborative efforts of public and private entities for the benefit of Colorado. The heated platform is being partially funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), a $100,000 grant from the City of Denver, a $100,000 grant from the Town of Winter Park, $1,000 from the Colorado Rail Passengers Association, and the remainder from Winter Park Resort.
“Amtrak and the resort worked together with Union Pacific to test this service in 2015, successfully demonstrating interest when tickets for both days operated sold out in minutes,” said Matt Hardison, Amtrak Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “We are excited to be part of the team to bring comfort, reliability and accessibility to the trip to Winter Park – and give thousands of our customers an opportunity to experience one of the many exceptionally scenic routes on the Amtrak national network.”
“This is the culmination of a long but rewarding process and we couldn’t be more excited to have passenger rail service return to the doorstep of Winter Park Resort,” said Gary DeFrange, Winter Park Resort President. “We know there’s incredible demand for a viable transportation alternative to I-70 and we’re deeply appreciative to Amtrak, Union Pacific, CDOT, City of Denver, and the Town of Winter Park for helping to make this long-standing dream a reality.”
Questions about Winter Park Resort and its many features can be answered directly by calling the resort at 888-923-7275.
“Union Pacific is pleased to partner with Winter Park and Amtrak to make the 2017 ski train service a reality,” said Donna Kush, Vice President of Public Affairs for Union Pacific. “Our No. 1 focus is safety for employees, passengers and communities, and we look forward to working with all involved parties to ensure the ski train is a safe and comfortable operation.”
A new commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Union Station enables visitors from throughout the country and across the globe to travel from their flight to Winter Park. Seamless rail connectivity will be available from the airport, to the Winter Park Express and on to Winter Park Resort, without having to rent a car, secure a shuttle or navigate mountain roads. Separate ticketing for the RTD University of Colorado A-Line from the airport is required from Denver RTD.
The seasonal Amtrak Winter Park Express will share this route with the daily Amtrak California Zephyr service, which stops in nearby Fraser, Colo., and will continue to operate during this period over its full schedule between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay, via Denver.
Photos: Amtrak, Darrell Arndt