A Denver ski season tradition may not go the way of the steam engine. In April, a company operated by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz said it would no longer run Ski Train excursions to Winter Park from downtown Denver, potentially ending a 69-year tradition. Anschutz’s firm sold its Ski Train railcars to a Canadian railroad company.
Last month, Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC, which operates excursion railroads seasonally in southern Colorado and short-line freight railroads in this state and across the country, said it would like to take over the Denver-Winter Park service. The Union Pacific Railroad said Thursday that it has approved a request from Amtrak to operate a revived Ski Train between Denver and Winter Park for the upcoming ski season.
The new Ski Train operation is scheduled to run between Dec. 26 and March 28. Amtrak and the renewed Ski Train are expected to use Union Station through the end of March.
Beginning in April, officials planning the $500 million redevelopment of Union Station as a hub for RTD expect to relocate Amtrak service to a temporary rail station at 21st and Delgany streets, just northwest of Coors Field, for 3 1/2 years while construction at Union Station proceeds. It is likely that Iowa Pacific’s Ski Train, if it operates during the 2010-11 season, would use the temporary Amtrak facility as well.
Iowa Pacific operates the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad that runs summer passenger excursions serving Alamosa, La Veta, Antonito and Monte Vista. Using railcars from that service for a winter Ski Train will make for more efficient use of the equipment.