December 28 2009, 10:43 AM
By now, thousands of skiers should have enjoyed cozy rides to Winter Park ski resort on the historic "Ski Train," which was recently saved from going out of business. Now, Amtrak has stalled---or stopped---the train again, writes The Denver Post, which dubs Amtrak a "killjoy." When the Rio Grande Scenic ski train didn't leave Union Station for Winter Park yesterday as expected, operators had no choice but to start issuing refunds. Problems began last week, when a federal judge ruled that Amtrak can't be forced to provide crews to operate the train (via the Denver Business Journal). Another major sticking point: The two sides, Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC, the company trying to revive the train, negotiated for months but never signed a contract. In his ruling, the judge says Iowa Pacific's claim that the months of negotiations and agreements on some items constituted a "valid contract ... is subject to substantial question and debate." It's tough to be optimistic about the train's future with the matter bogged down in court. Further proceedings aren't slated until January 6, 2010. Meanwhile, Chicago-based Iowa Pacific says in a statement that "we remain hopeful that the Rio Grande ski train will operate in 2010." Ski train ticket holders, left with few options but to inquire about refunds, should call 877-726-RAIL or visit riograndeskitrain.com.