PINECLIFFE, Colo. — Passengers taken off of last Saturday's Winter Park Express because of a Union Pacific derailment were able to re-book for other trips, a passenger railroad representative says. Amtrak decided to cancel the March 11 Winter Park Express round-trip between Denver and the excursion’s namesake ski area after an overnight derailment on Union Pacific’s Moffat Subdivision blocked the line.
Local media report that approximately 10 empty cars derailed around a curve. The cars were unloaded at the time, and witnesses reported no spilled cargo from the entire train. The derailment has since been cleaned up and trains are operating through the area normally.
The westbound California Zephyr was held over four hours at Denver until after noon before it was allowed to proceed, but lost another two hours waiting for the track to be cleared before reaching its regular stop at the Fraser-Winter Park station. Its eastbound counterpart was already running almost two hour late into the area and lost little additional time into Denver. Sunday’s Express departed on-time and arrived early into its terminals.
After learning details of the derailment from Union Pacific in conference calls, Amtrak officials decided that although the track would be eventually cleared sometime around midday Saturday. Delays meant skiers would have little time to hit the slopes. So at 5:15 a.m. Mountain time Saturday, Amtrak’s call centers began calling and texting passengers that the train would not be running.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells Trains News Wire that about 500 seats had been sold but the fact that all had been purchased as e-tickets meant everyone could be notified and either re-booked for Sunday’s trip or one of the two remaining weekends that the train will be operating.
“It’s unfortunate that the incident occurred, but we are pleased that the system allowed us to get in touch with many of the passengers before they arrived at Denver Union Station,” Magliari says, reporting that there were some refunds but most patrons re-booked for Sunday’s train or one of the two remaining March weekends that the Winter Park Express operates.
He estimates that since it began operating this January, the train has carried 16,000 to 17,000 passengers.