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.