A wonderful family tradition of 69 years has been discarded because the two parties involved were not able to negotiate an agreement to continue the operation of the Winter Park Ski Train. On Monday, December 28, 2009 Ed Ellis, President of the Iowa Pacific Railroad, announced that the Ski Train would not operate for the 2009-2010 season. His announcement also said that refunds would be mailed out to all 13,000 individuals that had already purchased train tickets.
The dispute between Amtrak, the company that Ellis was negotiating with to operate the ski train, and Iowa Pacific Railroad spilled over into Federal Court last month. At issue was Amtrak’s insistence that Ellis purchase a $200 million dollar insurance policy for the ski train service.
Mr. Ellis stated that his company could not afford such a policy and remain profitable.
Amtrak offered other excuses why they weren’t able to successfully negotiate a contract with Iowa Pacific:
• Amtrak crews would not get enough ‘rest’ with the train schedule Iowa RR proposed.
• Iowa’s RR train had not passed a required Federal inspection (Mr. Ellis said this was much to do about nothing).
• Finally, Amtrak questioned Iowa RR’s financial viability. (To me this is the pot calling the kettle black. After all, Amtrak has been a perennial financial sinkhole that has lived for years by feeding from the public trough!)
Bottom line – Amtrak has successfully sidetracked a train service that keeps ‘thousands’ of cars off of I-70 during winter months, provides many needed jobs (we are still in a recession) and, was/is a ‘green’ mode of travel. Way to go Amtrak – You’re the scrooge that stole our ski train!!