The Amtrak Winter Park Express will be fully operational for the 2016-2017 ski season after a seven-year hiatus. According to the press release, the 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 the trains from January 7th through March 26th, 2017.
"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."
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 give skiers and riders the option to skip heavy I-70 traffic, while enjoying a comfortable and scenic two-hour ride on the historic route through Moffat Tunnel.
"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."
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.
Adult tickets will start as low as $39 each way and go on sale on at 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time on Tuesday, August 30th exclusively through the Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress website. 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. and arrive back in Denver at 6:40 p.m.
Along with the recent addition of the commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Union Station, this now allows for seamless rail travel from DIA to the slopes of Winter Park Resort.
Stay tuned for a full-experience trip report later this season!