Posts Tagged ‘Dome cars’

Cruising in Back in Time in Washington State

February 23, 2021

The Amtrak wayback machine has landed us in Steilacoom, Washington, on Aug. 12, 1974. We’re just in time to see E8A No. 346 leading a corridor train between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

The photographer didn’t say which train it was but it appears to be either the Mount Rainier or the Puget Sound. Both of those trains in 1974 operated with dome coaches and offered snack and beverage service.

No. 346 was built for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in September 1950. Amtrak would retire the unit a year later.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Surplus Domes in Beech Grove

February 20, 2020

Dome cars were a fixture on most of Amtrak’s western long-distance trains through the late 1970s.

But as Superliner equipment began arriving in 1979 many of the dome cars were retired and sold to private owners.

A few domes were rebuilt as dome coaches for the Heritage Fleet and they operated on such trains as the City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Domes on the latter operated only west of Albany, New York.

But the gradual retirement of the Heritage Fleet also meant the sidelining of its fleet of short domes.

The Capitol Limited and City of New Orleans lost their domes due to the trains being assigned Superliner equipment. Amfleet II coaches became the standard for the Lake Shore Limited.

Some of the surplus short domes are shown in March 1995 at the Beech Grove shops after being removed from service and awaiting sale to new owners.

This is Somewhat an Amtrak Train

January 17, 2020

Amtrak was not the only scheduled rail passenger carrier to operate dome cars in the 1970s. The Denver & Rio Grande Zephyr had dome cars as did the Auto-Train.

For a short time in 1976-1977 Amtrak and Auto-Train operated a joint train between Louisville, Kentucky, and Sanford, Florida.

The Amtrak contribution was the Floridian, which operated between Chicago and Miami/St. Petersburg.

The Floridian would combine with the Auto-Train in Louisville and use A-T locomotives as far as Sanford.

At Jacksonville, the Miami section of the Floridian was separated and continued on its way behind an Amtrak SDP40F locomotive.

Interestingly, Amtrak put a dome car onto the Miami section in Jacksonville.

Shown is one of the Auto-Train dome cars on what is now the St. Petersburg section of the Floridian.

The combined Floridian and Auto-Train operation ended with the last joint train departing Louisville on Sept. 3, 1977.

With that Auto-Train gave up on serving the Midwest. Losses that Auto-Train incurred in serving the Midwest played a major role in bankrupting the company and leading to its demise.

Aboard the North Coast Hiawatha During Its Last Days

January 8, 2020

I made it a point in September 1979 to make a trip from Chicago to Seattle aboard the North Coast Hiawatha.

The train was set to be discontinued on Oct. 1 although a court order kept it running for a few more days before the inevitable occurred.

Shown is the dome car assigned to No. 17. I made this image from an open vestibule door as the train made its way through Montana.

Dome cars on Amtrak’s western trains were becoming an endangered species at the time.

New Superliner equipment was coming and watching the Rocky Mountains from a dome would within another year or two become a thing of the past unless you were traveling in a private car.

No. 17 is on the tracks of the former Northern Pacific, which heavily promoted its use of dome cars on its North Coast Limited.

Amtrak Dome Ocean View Has Been Retired

September 2, 2019

The great dome car that was used in recent years for special duty on Amtrak trains has been retired.

The carrier’s last dome car is thought to be in storage at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

In recent years the car had been assigned to the Adirondack between Albany, New York, and Montreal during the fall foliage season.

Known as the Ocean View, the dome was built in 1955 for the Great Northern for use on its Empire Builder.

It was acquired by Amtrak from the Burlington Northern and given roster number 9361.

After being rebuilt in March 1985 to head end power, the car was renumbered to 9300(2) and assigned to the Auto Train.

It was renovated in 1999 and given roster number 10031 at which time it was assigned to Amtrak’s corporate services unit.

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams told the Times Union newspaper of Albany that the Ocean View was retired “due to the age and expense of maintaining this vintage car.”

Gary Prophet, president of the Empire State Passengers Association, told the newspaper he was “very sad and disappointed” that Amtrak decided to retire the car rather than repair it.

He described the Ocean View as “a huge benefit for passengers riding through the Adirondacks.”

7 Domes to be in Autumn Colors Express Consist

August 9, 2019

Dome cars will be plentiful in the consist of the Autumn Colors Express when it travels in October in West Virginia.

The train will have three Amtrak locomotives and 29 private cars, many of which once operated on the New River Train.

Bookending the consist will be Milwaukee Road Cedar Rapid, the eastbound tail car, and Pennsylvania Railroad Frank Thompson as the westbound tail car.

Among the seven dome cars will be Northern Pacific No. 549, a Budd short dome, and Silver Palace, a former California Zephyr car.

Other noteworthy cars in the consist will be six Budd-built cars that originally had cars and traction motors for service in the Northeast Corridor.

Similar in design to Amtrak’s Amfleet cars, the former self-propelled vehicles will used as coaches.

No Amtrak cars will be included in the consist.

The Autumn Colors Express excursions will depart from Huntington on Oct. 25-27. Tickets can be purchased at

VIA Changes Dome Operations

May 30, 2019

A VIA Rail Canada Panorama Dome sits in Jasper, Alberta, on the eastbound Canadian in May 2014.

VIA Rail Canada has changed the operation of dome cars on its signature train, The Canadian.

Trains magazine reported that the single-level, full-length Panorama dome cars are operating between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Edmonton, Alberta.

VIA has two of the Panorama cars and they operate eastbound on Train No. 2 on Friday and Train No. 4 on Tuesday.

The cars return on Train No. 1 on Wednesday and No. 3 on Friday.

The Panorama cars had originally been billed as operating between Vancouver and Toronto, but that proved to be short lived with the last Panorama leaving Toronto on May 22.

The Canadian will operate for the summer with four short dome cars, which included a Park series dome-observation car.

Two of the domes serve beverages and snacks. A third dome has meals and beverages for purchased by coach passengers. That dome is positioned behind the coaches.

Trains said when a Panorama dome operates on Nos. 1 or 2, that will give the consist of those trains five domes.

Nos.  3 and 4 operate only between Vancouver and Edmonton with a shorter consist that includes one less Skyline dome.

All That is Left

February 16, 2019

Amtrak once had a few dozen dome cars, but only great dome Ocean View is left.

The car is in storage most of the year, only being brought out for special occasions and revenue service in the fall.

It is shown here at Jack London Square in Oakland, California, in the consist of a chartered train that operated during the 1999 National Railway Historical Society convention.

That was built by Budd in 1955 for the Great Northern Railway.

I did not ride in Ocean View on this trip and I probably have never ridden in it. My only memory of riding in a full-width dome dates to February 1976 when I rode in one aboard the Empire Builder from Milwaukee to Chicago.

Dome Car Excursions Set From Roanoke

October 6, 2017

Private dome cars excursions will be offered Nov. 11-13 on the soon-to-be extended Amtrak Northeast Regional service to Roanoke, Virginia.

The excursions are being hosted by the Virginia Museum of Transportation to raise money for maintenance expenses of Norfolk & Western steam locomotive No. 611. The steamer will not be involved in any of the excursions.

The trips will operate Nov. 11-13 between Roanoke and Washington.

Tickets, which go on sale today, will be sold as one-way tickets, allowing riders to choose which days they travel in each direction.

“This allows guests to choose what kind of trip works best for their travel,” the museum said on its website. “You may want to ride to Roanoke Friday evening and return Saturday, Sunday, or even Monday. Another option would be to rent a car on your return and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

Tickets are $225 per person and include complimentary breakfast, lunch, and beverages. Each one-way trip lasts approximately five hours.

For more information:

Amtrak Dome Car running on Downeaster Route

August 24, 2017

Amtrak has assigned its dome car Ocean View to the Downeaster route through late September.

The car, a former Great Northern Railway full-length dome car, ran on the route in August and September 2016.

The car will make four daily trips on the route between Boston and Brunswick, Maine.

Seats in the dome section are available to all passengers at no extra charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Among the view passengers will see are the coastline, marshes and streams. The dome car will operate on the Downeaster route through Sept. 24.