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COVID-19 Derails Winter Park Ski Train

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The Winter Park ski train that takes skiers and snowboarders from downtown Denver's Union Station to Winter Park Resort won’t run this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Amtrak and the resort will use the 2020-21 season to look for ways to make the Winter Park Express even better when it relaunches. Amtrak has been reducing the number of seats sold on each train to enable distancing, a best-practice that will likely continue into the upcoming winter season. Amtrak and Winter Park Resort evaluated seating options on the Winter Park Express and agreed that, with social distancing requirements, it was not possible to operate the train successfully this season,” the partners said in a joint statement.

The year-round California Zephyr stops in nearby Fraser, Colorado, operating between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay, via Denver and Salt Lake City. A shuttle operates between the Fraser station and Winter Park Resort. The service, which typically runs on weekends from January through March, won’t return until 2022. Amtrak and resort officials said that in the meantime they would explore ways to improve the experience.

The train’s hiatus this season is another blow to Colorado’s ski industry, which is trying to figure out how to safely reopen resorts this winter amid the pandemic. Resorts in Colorado were shut down in mid-March just as spring break was ramping up.

For decades, the train chugged into the Rocky Mountains west from Denver, snaking through 29 tunnels and crossing the Continental Divide before delivering eager skiers to the base of the resort at an elevation of 9,000 feet (2,743 meters). Insurance woes doomed the service in 2009, but — with some help from Amtrak — it was resurrected in 2017.

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