Judge denies motion to get Colorado Ski Train running
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – A federal judge denied a motion Wednesday by a Chicago-based company to allow it to revive train service from Denver to the Winter Park ski area this weekend.
U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn rejected a request by Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC for a temporary restraining order against Amtrak so it could get the Ski Train rolling. He said the company had not convinced him that it would prevail in its lawsuit against Amtrak, which was negotiating with Iowa Pacific for crews.
The lawsuit is still pending.
Iowa Pacific claims that Amtrak is guilty of breach of contract because of “unforeseen demands,” including requiring $200 million in insurance that would cover terrorist attacks. The company had planned to start service Sunday and had received more than 13,000 reservations for the season.
Amtrak attorney Edwin Aro argued during the hearing Wednesday that a contract with Iowa Pacific was never finalized.
“Standing here two days before Christmas, I feel like the Grinch, trying to take the Ski Train away,” Aro said.
Spokesman Marc Magliari said Amtrak believes the train can’t run until various safety issues have been resolved and Amtrak’s liability and operating requirements have been met.
Ski Train officials said they still hope to run this season, but in the meantime, customers with reservations can receive full refunds.
A company owned by billionaire Phil Anschutz operated the Ski Train until April, when it was dropped because of costs, schedules and other problems. The service has been offered for 69 years.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.