• Winter Park Express: Denver-Winter Park Ski Train

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by gokeefe
Looks as though "one-time" is now about to become "every year". Note the direct response at the very end of the quote to the final point made by our esteemed moderator in his last post ...
The return of the Winter Park Express marks one of the more exciting developments for Colorado skiers in years, and resort officials say it's already attracting attention worldwide.
Steve Hurlbert, a spokesman for the Denver-owned ski resort, said people from as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia have shown interest in the train, which is set to resume seasonal weekend passenger service Jan. 7.
Also featured are Amtrak's Superliner double-decker cars, which are designed for longer distances and are roomier than normal passenger train cars. The train can carry more than 500 passengers and can be resized depending on demand.
But downsizing might not be an issue.
Hurlbert said tickets for two test runs of the service in March 2015 sold out in about 14 hours.
"We knew all along that there was a huge demand to bring this train back, and that really illustrated to Amtrak that the demand is substantial," he said.
Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, said Denver-based employees proposed resurrecting the ski train a couple of years ago, and a conversation began with Winter Park Resort and Union Pacific, which owns the tracks.
It turns out, "the employee-borne idea had some legs to it," Magliari said. "We have the available equipment. We have a willing host in Union Pacific and we have a great partner in Winter Park."
But perhaps a more serendipitous development for the ski train was the recent completion of a passenger rail line between Denver International Airport and Union Station.
"This is the only service of its kind in the United States," Hurlbert said. "This is the only place you can go from the airport to the mountain by rail. It's a very European model. ... That's what really makes this exciting. It's so much bigger in scope. It really kind of opens up the state to a lot of international travelers."
The last example of a seasonal route run by Amtrak that comes to mind is the Cape Codder and the Clam Digger which ran on various schedules until 1996. I believe this new service also marks the first new Superliner equipped train in decades. Also worth noting that demand is so high that there was absolutely no discussion of a requirement for operating subsidies.
  by gokeefe
"Amtrak Winter Park Express presented by CenturyLink" ... A local telecommunications provider is the sponsor ... I wonder how good the onboard Wi-Fi will be ...
To celebrate the partnership and spread the word about the new service, three rail cars and one locomotive will be wrapped in CenturyLink branding and used as part of Amtrak California Zephyr service prior to the Winter Park Express’ inaugural journey on Jan. 7.
Train enthusiasts will be able to view the locomotive at Union Station when it’s not in service, which runs to and from the Winter Park Resort every weekend—and two holiday Mondays—through March 26.
“We’re delighted to have CenturyLink join in the frenzy that has surrounded the Winter Park Express,” Winter Park Resort president Gary DeFrange said in a statement. “News of the return of passenger rail service from Denver to Winter Park has not only been the talk of Colorado, but it has generated immense excitement throughout the nation and even internationally. We’re thrilled to have CenturyLink, a partner with such a sterling reputation in the state, help us bring this iconic tradition back to the people of Colorado and beyond.”
Since the service was first announced in August, ticket sales have been steady, according to Amtrak officials. With the rush of travelers heading to resorts to get in their skiing and snowboarding, capacity is being added.
In addition, Amtrak is offering customers the chance to book group travel and even obtain exclusive occupancy of railcars with upgraded service and ski packages, subject to availability.
Pretty big deal really. Looks as if Amtrak is already adding amenities and now indications of some kind of higher service class. Almost sounds as if they are going to use sleeper accommodations as day rooms.
  by gokeefe
More early detail on additional capacity ... Appears to be coach only ...
When the resurrected service via Amtrak was announced in August, each train could carry more than 500 people.

Since then, interest has proved so strong that some weekends are close to selling out, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told the Denver Business Journal on Thursday.

“We’ve added capacity for the entire period, that’s how strong the sales have been,” he said, declining to discuss details of the ticket sales.

Amtrak will add another coach rail car to each train, meaning at least 60 additional seats per train, Magliari said.
  by gokeefe
More excitement along with fare tiers published:
Only a limited number of seats are available for each train and each price level. Book early online at Amtrak, before the one-way $39 discount tickets are sold out. Tickets will then be available at $49 and then $59 respectively, as each lower-priced seat sells out. Discounted tickets are sold on a first come first served basis.

Here’s a look at the Winter Park Express schedule:

Depart Union Station at 7 am
Arrive at Winter Park at 9 am
Depart Winter Park at 4:30 pm
Arrive at Union Station at 6:40 pm
Still wondering what the last new Superliner route was ... the Kentucky Cardinal started running in 1999 ... Of routes not related to the M&E initiative and still running today the Pere Marquette which started service in August 1984 appears to be the last truly "new" Superliner route initiated by Amtrak.

The Winter Park Express is an interesting route for Amtrak from a historical perspective. A seasonal route with a long operating history. It ran even longer than the Rio Grande Zephyr, the final year round scheduled inter-city passenger train service not operated by Amtrak. The Rio Grande operated the route as the Ski Train until 1988. At which point the Anschutz family investment company took it over.

In some ways the route was truly the "last gasp" of privately owned and operated rail service in the U.S. becoming part of Amtrak in the same months that All Aboard Florida, a new private operator, took its first delivery of new rolling stock for their service. It also had a brush with an attempted operation by Iowa Pacific in 2009 which ended in a disagreement and litigation with Amtrak. All of this makes for a remarkable confluence

The new train is the first new Superliner route in the 21st century. It is the first seasonal Superliner route ever. And it is running on the same rails as the only other Western transcontinental route ever to be restored to full service. Not a bad start at all.im looking forward to the success of a much needed service that is loved dearly by the communities it serves.
  by Rockingham Racer
The schedule looks like it's built around the hours of service law. Or do they switch crews at Tabernash or some such place?
  by electricron
gokeefe wrote:More excitement along with fare tiers published:
Still wondering what the last new Superliner route was ... the Kentucky Cardinal started running in 1999 ... Of routes not related to the M&E initiative and still running today the Pere Marquette which started service in August 1984 appears to be the last truly "new" Superliner route initiated by Amtrak.
The "Heartland Flyer", still serving passengers today, started from Ft. Worth on June 14, 1999, and started from Oklahoma City on June 15, 1999.
FYI - The "Kentucky Cardinal" started on December 17, 1999 - last train ran on July 5, 2003.

Let's hope the ""Winter Park Express" excursion train service last longer than the "Kentucky Cardinal".

And please give the Heartland Flyer more respect, because Amtrak was involved initiating its service.
  by gokeefe
I would tend to agree as well except those hours are pretty normal for skiing. Lessons etc. start at 9/930am, upper lifts and coldest areas start to shutdown around 4pm. That's normal for Maine. Not sure about Winter Park, CO but I would suspect its about the same.
  by gokeefe
electricron wrote:The "Heartland Flyer", still serving passengers today, started from Ft. Worth on June 14, 1999, and started from Oklahoma City on June 15, 1999.
Goodness, for some reason I thought the Heartland Flyer was running with Horizon cars. Probably conflated it with the Missouri River Runner. Very much aware otherwise that the Kentucky Cardinal was shortlived. I certainly agree with the sentiment ... let's hope the Winter Park Express runs strong for many years to come. I think there's every reason to believe it will.
  by gokeefe
Denver Post running a special coverage section.
It’s back, and it’s ready to party.

Winter Park Express Opening Day will celebrate the return of the popular winter tradition as the train chugs into Winter Park through the historic Moffat Tunnel on Saturday. After catching a ride and hitting the slopes, the resort will host a DJ, prizes and giveaways on the West Portal patio from 1 to 3 p.m., then live music by Ryan Kelly inside the Derailer bar from 3 to 5 p.m. before you head back into the city.

But did you really even go if you didn’t document it on social media? The resort is asking travelers to post to Instagram with #WinterParkExpress so they can collect 3,000 images for a special Train Mosaic.
  by gokeefe
From the "SkyHi News" ...
There will be a Winter Park Express Launch Party at Union Station’s Terminal Bar on Friday, Jan. 6 from 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Before the event several special guest speakers will address the media including Senator Michael Bennet, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman, representatives from Amtrack and Union Pacific Railroad, and Winter Park Resort President Gary DeFrange.
  by Backshophoss
Not sure if there's any onboard WiFi installed on the Superliner lounge cars yet,Century Link(aka Quest,nee US West) is the
regional "Baby Bell",should have decent cell phone coverage in Winter Park-Aspen area along with all the other major
cell phone carriers,but with mountain areas there will be some "holes" where coverage is non exisiting or very poor at the least. :wink:
  by gokeefe
Nice article in Denver's local lifestyle magazine "5280".
A new multi-million-dollar, handicap-accessible train platform at Winter Park was one of the key pieces that allowed the train to return. The platform—funded by a collaboration of private and public entities—is already under construction, and is expected to be completed in December.

The Winter Park Express, along with new direct flights from major U.S. cities to Colorado ski towns, should give I-70 a little bit of a breather on its usual congestion. If you’re planning on driving up on Friday night or Saturday morning, we wish you luck. We’ll wave from the train.
Great to see new platform construction with ADA requirements already being met.
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