At this time of the year, European trains often are packed with passengers hauling skis, boots and poles for a winter holiday on the mountain slopes. In this country, Amtrak is making a bid for the winter sports fan with two "Ski Amtrak Country" brochures, listing more than 40 resorts in the West and 23 in the East that can be reached by train.
From Washington, the Montrealer, traveling overnight from Washington to Montreal, stops at or near a number of Vermont and Quebec resorts where Amtrak offers tour packages. The train departs Union Station nightly at 5:25, arriving the next morning at, for example, White River Junction at 4:32 for transfer to Killington resort (40 miles distant) or 6:20 a.m. at Waterbury for transfer to Stowe resort (10 miles). The return train departs Waterbury at 10:45 p.m. and White River Junction at 12:25 a.m., arriving in Washington at 11:07 a.m.
The early arrival and late departure may sound inconvenient, but, says an Amtrak spokesman, they make possible a full day's skiing as well as plenty of apre s ski time, especially for skiers trying to cram a maximum number of downhill runs into a long weekend.
A sample Amtrak package for Killington -- roundtrip train ticket, transfers, two nights in a hotel, three breakfasts and dinners, three-day lift ticket, taxes and gratuities -- goes for $335 per person (double occupancy). Departure is Thursday night and arrival back in Washington Monday morning.
For more information, contact a travel agent or Amtrak tour office. Ski country brochures are available from Amtrak offices or by writing: Amtrak Distribution Center, P.O. Box 311, Addison, Ill. 60101. Specify East or West.