Spectacular 360-degree views, made possible by windows on all four sides and curving up into the roof, are a feature of the Amtrak Great Dome car, which will be assigned to the Amtrak Pere Marquette train on four weekends this July.
Officially known as car 10031 “Ocean View,” it is the only Dome Lounge car in the entire Amtrak fleet. It will operate eastbound on Thursday nights with round-trips through the weekend, returning west to Chicago on Monday mornings, June 30-July 4, July 7-11, 14-18 and 21-24. There is no extra charge to ride in this car, built for the Great Northern Railway in 1955.
The upper level offers panoramic views of the of one of the prettiest routes in the Midwest, from the Chicago skyline to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, carousel and beach in St. Joseph, massive pickling tanks in Bangor, famous tulip town of Holland and the bright new station in Grand Rapids. Heavy traffic, steep tolls and pricey parking are far away for Amtrak customers, with adult fares starting at $32 each way, plus add-ons for bikes or small pets.
The Great Dome Car was first utilized on the Chicago to Seattle Empire Builder train operated by the Great Northern Railway and the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, which later became Burlington Northern. The car was built in 1955 by the Budd Company, and was later conveyed to Amtrak in 1971. It was renovated in 1985 and used in daily service on the Amtrak Auto Train to and from the Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida areas through 1994. It was further refurbished in 1999 and earned the number 10031, and has been used in various Amtrak services including the Pacific Surfliners and other charters and excursions.
Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation will offer walk-up checked bike service aboard the Pere Marquette at the Chicago, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids stations for only $10, starting May 6.
Reservations Required: Bicycle reservations are required and bike tickets must be presented to the conductor when boarding the train. Passengers can reserve space for their bikes by selecting “add bike” when they book their train travel on Amtrak.com, by calling 1-800-USA- RAIL (1-800-872-7245) and at Amtrak ticket offices. Passengers can also make reservations at the Chicago ticket office and at Quik-Trak® ticketing kiosks at Chicago, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids. Bike reservations cannot be made through Amtrak mobile apps. Only one bike is permitted per person.
Passengers will be provided a bike tag by station employees in Chicago and by the train crew at St. Joseph-Benton, Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids. Passenger must present their bike tag at the baggage car to retrieve their bike from the train crew at their destination.
Arrive Early: Passengers checking bikes must arrive 30 minutes prior to train departure to allow sufficient time to obtain their ticket and baggage tag, and to get their bike to the baggage car.
Eligible Bikes: Only standard size bikes will be permitted. Large seat/saddle bags must be removed from the bikes. These items can be carried on the train and will count as a carry-on item.
Loading Bikes: Passengers must be physically capable of lifting their bike up to shoulder height to an employee standing in the baggage car. Passengers are not permitted in this car. Amtrak personnel will store and secure the bike to the bike racks.
Bicycle service will officially begin via a soft launch on May 6 as Amtrak opens to reservations. Passengers will now be able to get on and off the train with their bicycles in Grand Rapids, Holland, St. Joseph and Chicago without boxing or disassembling their bikes. Each train will have 15 racks. There will be an open house event at the Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station, 440 Century Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 11 to view and experience the new bicycle service on the Amtrak Pere Marquette route.