The two companies indicated that social distancing precautions would make it impossible to run a successful ski train operation. Amtrak has been reducing train service and the number of seats sold around the country due to health and safety measures.
The “Ski Train” has endured quite the history. It first started in 1940, bringing skiers from Denver’s Union Station to Winter Park Resort. The Ski Train winds 56 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes through the mountains, including traveling under the Continental Divide, before ending less than 100 yards from the slopes of Winter Park. The original Ski Train operated continuously from 1940 – 2009, with a brief suspension until 2015, when it held a 75th-anniversary train ride. The Ski Train returned to normal weekend service (Friday – Sunday) in 2017 and has operated ever since, until its suspension this past March due to Covid-19.
The Ski Train is immensely popular and offers an alternate route from the greater Denver area instead of the usual drive. In 2019, over 20,000 tickets were sold, and the Ski Train was looking to exceed that this past season prior to its March suspension.
In addition to The Winter Park Express Ski Train suspending operations for winter 20/21, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced the Snowstang Bus won’t operate as well. The Snowstang Bus began in 2019 and runs from downtown Denver to three ski areas, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, and Steamboat. They anticipate returning in winter 21/22 as normal.
While the ski train won’t run during the winter 20/21 season, Amtrak and Winter Park plan on utilizing the service suspension to brainstorm how to make the ski train experience better than ever. Both companies anticipate resuming service for the future winter 21/22 season.