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New England ski trains and/or busses

VTKilarney

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I have a romanticized idea that we could have an actual ski train someday.

The way I see it, the reason ski trains aren't viable are as follows:
1) Most skiers live in the suburbs. They would rather not downtown and pay a premium to park. You would need a good suburban station with cheap parking.
2) For more than one or two people, the train fare is usually not competitive.
3) Most ski areas require a car when you are there.
4) Existing train tracks are generally freight lines and are SLOW.
5) We are a car culture.
6) See #5.

I was trying to think if there was a mountain that is near train tracks that has good slopeside lodging, if not an actual village.

Train tracks come surprisingly close to Jay Peak, but they look like they are VERY slow and the international border presents problems. And you would still need a several mile transfer from a train station.

I'm not sure what the train tracks are like to North Conway, but Cranmore doesn't have a sufficient slopeside village to make a train viable.

Aren't there tracks that parallel I-93? That seems to be a pretty viable option - especially for Loon. On the other hand, it's REALLY easy to just shoot up I-93 in a car. I don't see a train being very appealing when there is a high speed interstate running right along side of it.

If a train doesn't make much sense, I wonder if bus service would make any sense. Buses are cheap and convenient. I could see being tempted to take a bus to the ski hill on Friday with a return on Sunday. But to avoid sitting idle all weekend, the bus has to come back on Friday empty. Has Vermont Transit (now Greyhound), Dartmouth Coach, Concord Trailways, or any other company tried a ski bus? I know that there are companies that make day runs, but I was thinking of something that you could just buy a ticket for without an actual package that would allow you to go to ski country for the weekend.
 

dlague

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I have a romanticized idea that we could have an actual ski train someday.

The way I see it, the reason ski trains aren't viable are as follows:
1) Most skiers live in the suburbs. They would rather not downtown and pay a premium to park. You would need a good suburban station with cheap parking.
2) For more than one or two people, the train fare is usually not competitive.
3) Most ski areas require a car when you are there.
4) Existing train tracks are generally freight lines and are SLOW.
5) We are a car culture.
6) See #5.

I was trying to think if there was a mountain that is near train tracks that has good slopeside lodging, if not an actual village.

Train tracks come surprisingly close to Jay Peak, but they look like they are VERY slow and the international border presents problems. And you would still need a several mile transfer from a train station.

I'm not sure what the train tracks are like to North Conway, but Cranmore doesn't have a sufficient slopeside village to make a train viable.

Aren't there tracks that parallel I-93? That seems to be a pretty viable option - especially for Loon. On the other hand, it's REALLY easy to just shoot up I-93 in a car. I don't see a train being very appealing when there is a high speed interstate running right along side of it.

If a train doesn't make much sense, I wonder if bus service would make any sense. Buses are cheap and convenient. I could see being tempted to take a bus to the ski hill on Friday with a return on Sunday. But to avoid sitting idle all weekend, the bus has to come back on Friday empty. Has Vermont Transit (now Greyhound), Dartmouth Coach, Concord Trailways, or any other company tried a ski bus? I know that there are companies that make day runs, but I was thinking of something that you could just buy a ticket for without an actual package that would allow you to go to ski country for the weekend.

NH is retiring many of its railway passes and converting them into snowmobile/ATV trails so i think trains are out of the question. There are tons of bus services already google or bing "new england ski bus tours".
 

yeggous

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North Conway / Mt Washington Valley is the classic ski train town. The entire valley developed precisely because the trains brought people there. It is the only place that it could actually work. The train tracks run right in front of Attitash -- they even cross the driveway to Bear Peak / Attitash hotel. Cranmore has a small village but are expanding. There are other hotels throughout the area and I'm sure they run a shuttle if people actually took the train. The same thing goes from Bretton Woods -- Fabyan's Station was exactly that. The scenic rail still runs from Bretton Woods to North Conway during the summer and fall.

The ski train died a long time ago because it was not cost competitive. It was also a giant party atmosphere with everyone heading up to the ski clubs and drinking the entire way. The train station in Glen actually because a ski club when passenger service stopped and remains a club to this day.
 

VTKilarney

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Bretton Woods opened in 1973. I had assumed that ski trains were long gone by then.
 

yeggous

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The "ski trains" to North Conway stopped in 1950.

The lift-serviced skiing at Bretton Woods is relatively modern, but the resort area has been there much longer. Train service arrived in the mid 1870s. The current hotel as you know it opened in 1902.
 

VTKilarney

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The "ski trains" to North Conway stopped in 1950.

The lift-serviced skiing at Bretton Woods is relatively modern, but the resort area has been there much longer. Train service arrived in the mid 1870s. The current hotel as you know it opened in 1902.

Do you know if those same trains served the Bethlehem resorts?
 

legalskier

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Amtrak has the Ethan Allen Express and the Vermonter:
www.amtrak.com/whistle-stop/amtrak-ticket-to-skiers-delight

There used to be a ski train to Simpson's in Phoenicia but it hasn't run in decades:

 

mister moose

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Rutland has train service from New York, and a few people use it, but not often. It requires a friend or a bus to make the 20 minute connection to Killington. Usually it's a NYC dweller who has to leave early or arrive late, and has family to drive to the station.

Tracks run right through Okemo, (walk to Jackson Gore) but the tracks are speed limited due to condition, and are currently freight only.

You had it right with the car culture. Ski trains aren't returning to Vermont anytime soon.
 

yeggous

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The Wikipedia entry has maps:

There is even an old photo of a train in Crawford Notch. If you look closely you can see an old hotel where the AMS Highland Center is today.

You'll notice that the branch running through Montpelier and Waterbury also stops at Woods V. (Woodsville, NH). This is where my family is from. My last name is Woods and it is not a coincidence.
 

yeggous

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The Wikipedia entry has maps:

There is even an old photo of a train in Crawford Notch. If you look closely you can see an old hotel where the AMS Highland Center is today.

You'll notice that the branch running through Montpelier and Waterbury also stops at Woods V. (Woodsville, NH). This is where my family is from. My last name is Woods and it is not a coincidence.

You'll also notice two notable spurs: one to the top of Mt Washington via the Cog, and the other to the Profile House. That is the old hotel in Franconia Notch that was located where the Cannon Tram and parking lot are today. It burned down in 1923, which was the catalyst for the state acquiring the land 5 years in 1928 later to make the state park. The tram opened 10 years after that in 1938.
 

yeggous

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You've piqued my interest. I'm at work and this is not helpful.

I am seeing conflicting dates on the ski train dates. I got the 1950 date based on the B&M Snow train story in the Boston Globe.

Apparently Sunday River tried train service from Portland in the 1990s and lost a lot of money.

But according to the State, they operated until 1961. The state produced a report of the feasibility on restoring service about ten years ago.
 

from_the_NEK

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Lyndon used to be a large train depot. There was a large engine works there (now the recycling center). The line is all freight now. It would be a short shuttle to Burke from Lyndon if there was a train bringing passengers.
 

VTKilarney

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Here is about the only way I could see this working:
1) Have a train from Montreal. Gas is more expensive in Canada, which will help with ridership. Montreal is also the type of city that has many residents without a car.
2) Have some sort of pre-clearance for immigration - or at least some mechanism to make sure that the train does not get held up for two hours at the border.

Even then it's a long-shot. Just look at Le Massif, although they have other problems that are dooming that train - such as making the station a fair distance drive from the city.

If the Vermonter service is restored to Montreal, you could have a special ski train from Montreal to Waterbury, VT. From there, Sugarbush, Smuggs, and Stowe could offer buses to their resorts.

Here is a really wild idea:
What about a ski train that is also your hotel? The train would have beds in varying degree of classes - from a private bedroom to dorm accommodations. The train would leave the city for the mountain on Friday night. It would stay parked at the mountain until Sunday afternoon. You could even have a dining option.

Of course you'd have to find a resort with railroad tracks VERY close to the base.
 

VTKilarney

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Gore has a ski train now running fron Albany i belive.

Holy cow. I just looked it up. Saratoga to Gore in 2 hours? That sounds like a tough sell. I like how you can have a cooked breakfast and dinner on the train, though.
 

snowngr

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With regard to Conway, that route goes up Amtrak's line from North Station to Rollinsford, NH where it turns onto NH Northcoast's line. This ends at the southern tip of Ossipee, NH at boston Sand & Gravel's aggragate pit. The track continuing north from here is abandoned, which is a real shame because it passes right by Whitier's gondola barn, and, as mentioned upthread, after passing through downtown North Conway, right by the base of Attitash.

I've often thought that Dorset and Danby peaks in Danby, VT would make a great ski area with a base on US-7 right next to the tracks. Unfortunately, the rail route here has become a bit convoluted. From Amtrak's Albany/Rensselear station, the line that goes directly toward Brattleboro has been abandoned and made into a rail trail. The train would have to cross the river into Albany and go up to Mechanicsville before crossing back east.
 

Smellytele

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The issue i have had with any type of public transportation - with a car the more people you put in it the cheaper it can be. Not so with a train or bus. Always the same price. Tough sell for a family of 5, great for single travelers
 

jimk

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If we only had Europe's rail network we could have something as awesome as this:
http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/euros...trains-france/ski-train-the-alps#.U1GhJPldWSo

Here is a list of USA ski trains:
http://unofficialnetworks.com/ski-trains-genteel-travel-part-113526/

Who knew that there is a Metro-North ski train to Thunder Ridge? The MBTA gets props for having ski holders in the train car.

Link above mentions Amtrak Empire Builder line from Chicago to Whitefish/Big Mtn and another Amtrak line for SF to Reno serving North Lake Tahoe/Truckee. I've daydreamed about using Amtrak to make a grand tour of a bunch of ski areas out west. You'd have to be retired on some kind of unlimited rail-pass or maybe a writer on assignment with lots of time. You can get within 10-20 miles or so of many good ski areas. Besides Whitefish, also Schweitzer/Sandpoint, Mt. Hood Meadows/Hood River, all on Empire Builder line. On Amtrak's California Zephyr line you could get off at Truckee for Northstar/Squalpine/Sugarbowl and more, use SLC to conveniently visit the great LCC and BCC ski areas, continue to Glenwood Springs, CO for Sunlight, Aspen, then on to Winter Park. There's probably more I am forgetting.

As much as training has romance, I agree with most posts that it's just not economical. I think ride sharing is the way to go. There could be some big potential for a craigslist/liftopia type nationwide network/interactive database for easy last minute ski trip ridesharing Just think if you could hitch a ride the night before or morning of a solo ski trip, it could have a huge impact for ski trippers. Or get a solo skier to join your half empty carload and contribute to gas costs for 100 mile each way day-trip to ski area. Something where drivers and ride seekers could post their travel plans from a few days to 45 minutes before their trip and get instant notification if someone wants to join them for a ski day. I believe there are tons of people out there who would make more ski trips including last minute trips if they could catch a ride or picked up a rider or two to share gas costs. Sorry for thread drift:oops:
 
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