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Holland America Westours (WTMC)

The cruise line previously operated 13 full-length dome cars, pulled by the Alaska RR between Anchorage and Fairbanks for cruise ship passengers. Intending to begin service in 1987 with 4 cars, pre-sale interest was larger than anticipated and six cars were actually placed into service that year. Increasing demand had 2 more added in 1989, another pair in 1994, 2 more in 1996, and the last in 1997.

Unlike Princess cruises "Midnight Sun Express" cars which were custom built, all the "McKinley Explorer" Westours cars were full length domes built for railroad use in the fifties.

Two cars (ex Milwaukee Road Pullman Standard "Superdomes" that were only being used in 'overflow' service) were listed for sale 6/2002, and five more (ex AT&SF Budd "Big Domes") became 'excess' and were listed for sale 3/2003 with 3 more of the Budds added to the sale list 7/2003. In late 2004 one of the Budds (512) was withdrawn from the sale offer, and with the remaining 3 other Budds (507, 508, 1394) was transferred to a new operating group Alaska Rail Tours/Gray Line to begin operating 2005 in a non "cruise ship" market for Alaska rail tour/travel. Those remaining 4 cars were sold to Iowa Pacific 10/09

In 2002, Westours announced the order from Colorado Railcar of 4 new cars, possibly the largest passenger cars ever constructed. Cars are 18'1" high by 89 ft long, in "A"/"B" pairs. Each "A" car has a dining room, full kitchen and small leading vestibule while each "B" car has a dining room, small wait station, small enclosed rear lounge and a large rear platform. Both types of car will seat 88 passengers on the upper level. Additionally, to avoid the 'breadbox' or 'brick' look of the competitors 'ultradomes', the new cars have slanted end windows in the style of traditional domecars. The 4 cars were delivered in spring 2003, and an additional 4 cars were added for 2004 delivery. 2 more cars were ordered for 2005 delivery.

The cars "recycled" names of the previous fleet, being named "Kenai"(1050), "Knik"(1051), "Chena"(1052), "Kobuk"(1053), "Eklutna"(1054), "Nenana"(1055), "Chulitna"(1056), "Talkeetna"(1057) and "Kashwitna"(1058). Runing out of 'recycle' names since 4 Budds were still active, 1059 was named "Teklanika".


1394 "Deshka"

GN 1394 "Prairie View" - to Amtrak 9364. Was used as an Amtrak parts car and was sold 5/93 as a shell (less trucks) to the BN. Stored Springfield MO (ex Frisco shops) until sold 1994 to Holland America Westours. After putting over $1m into it, car is now in service in Alaska, entering service in 1997. The car was one of 3 retained when the others were listed for sale because it required no pocket modifications and has Budd braked trucks (from under one of the two 1956 Budd built Santa Fe business cars that were retrucked with 4 wheel trucks in 1989). Sold 10/09 to Iowa Paific.


50 "Kenai"

MILW 50 - became CN 2400 "Jasper", VIA 2700, Tour Alaska TAIX 7092 (4/83) "Mt. Foraker", P&O Princess California Sun Express, Amtrak 9310 (HEP)-1990 Auto Train service, 12/95 to Holland America Westours - began service 1996 - for sale 6/2002 - name recycled to new #1050. Sold to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway 9/05.


507 "Susitna"

ATSF 507 - converted to nightclub #540 by Autotrain, to Roy Thorpe/Falcon Safety Products NJ (12/81), estate sale to Westours (7/87) (800153) - began service 1989. Car retained when others listed for sale as coupler pocket modifications were done on the B end to run with the new cars (they require more coupler swing than a standard CS pocket would allow due to the new cars' 89 foot length). Sold to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway 9/05.


508 "Matanuska"

ATSF 508 - Autotrain #520, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division(12/81), repainted full NYS&W maroon/gold colors during fall 1984, and was renumberedd NYS&W 503. The car was re-sold on 12/30/85 to Westours (800131) - entered service 1987. Car retained when others listed for sale as coupler pocket modifications were done on the B end to run with the new cars (they require more coupler swing than a standard CS pocket would allow due to the new cars' 89 foot length). Sold 10/09 to Iowa Paific.


509 "Chena"

ATSF 509 - Autotrain #521, Don Gage NY(12/81), Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division(1984) to replace 555 which burned, car never repainted or re-numbered for NYS&W, and was stored at Utica, NY until re-sold 12/30/85 to Westours (800122). Began service 1994 - listed for sale as 'excess' 3/2003 - name recycled to new #1052. Sold to San Luis & Rio Grande RR Alamosa CO 11/07.


510 "Chulitna"

ATSF 510 - Autotrain #522, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division(12/81), car stored unchanged until re-sold 12/30/85 to Westours (800123) - began service 1987. Listed for sale as 'excess' 3/2003. Sold to San Luis & Rio Grande RR Alamosa CO 11/07.


511 "Nenana"

ATSF 511 - Autotrain #523, car sold 12/81 to Dick Reynolds/Great Western tours San Francisco CA, leased thru partner Neil Ferguson to the Eureka Southern RR Willits CA for operation on their "North Coast Daylight". The car was operated as Sierra Western# 523, had it's window band painted orange, and was named "Donner Pass'" (inside car only). Car re-sold during 8/86 to Westours (800124) - began service 1987. Listed for sale as "excess" 7/2003. Sold to San Luis & Rio Grande RR Alamosa CO 11/07.


512 "Tanana"

ATSF 512 - converted to nightclub #541 by Autotrain, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division(12/81), stored unused, Westours(12/85) (800125) - began service 1987. Listed for sale as "excess" 7/2003. Withdrawn from sale and added to the Alaska Rail Tour/Gray Line operation. Sold 10/09 to Iowa Paific.


513 "Talkeetna"

ATSF 513 - Autotrain #524, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division (12/81), car was repainted full NYS&W maroon/gold colors during fall 1984, and was renumberedd NYS&W 501. The car was re-sold on 12/30/85 to Westours (800134) and began service 1987. Listed for sale as "excess" 7/2003. Withdrawn from sale and added to the Alaska Rail Tour/Gray Line operation 11/07 when balance of cars were sold to San Luis and Rio Grande RR. Sold 10/09 to Iowa Paific.


551 "Kobuk"

ATSF 551 - Autotrain #513, sold 12/81 to Curtis Potter of Cincinnatti OH and was operated through his company "Passenger Car Associates". Leased to the Golden Arrow excursion company from 1983-87 - The car was operated over the Wisconsin & Calumet Division of the Chicago West Pullman & Southern RR, car re-sold during 1989 to Westours, stored until rebuilt and released to service 6/94. Listed for sale as 'excess' 3/2003 with the name recycled to new #1053. Sold to San Luis & Rio Grande RR Alamosa CO 11/07.


553 "Kashwitna"

ATSF 553 - Autotrain #515, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division (12/81), the car was repainted full NYS&W maroon/gold colors during fall 1984, and was renumbered NYS&W 502. The car was re-sold on 12/30/85 to Westours (800135) and entered service in 1989. Listed for sale as 'excess' 3/2003. Sold to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway 7/06.


554 "Eklutna"

ATSF 554 - Autotrain #510, Delaware Otsego/NYS&W division (12/81), the car was repainted full NYS&W maroon/gold colors during fall 1984, and was renumbered NYS&W 504. The car was re-sold on 12/30/85 to Westours (800136) and entered service in 1987. Listed for sale as 'excess' 3/2003. Sold to San Luis & Rio Grande RR Alamosa CO 11/07.


555

MILW 55 - to Amtrak 9380, Blackburn (1977), 1985 Holland America Westours as WTMC 555 (800066) (never re-built), Transcisco Tours (1991) - seized as a result of Transcisco Bankrupcy, 1991 to owner of Blue Mountain & Reading RR. car stored still un-rebuilt in PA.


557

MILW 57 - to Amtrak 9381, to private owner "Allen" (1978) as "Silver Garden" restaurant in Portland OR - later named "Warsaw Express" (2nd owner), (1985) Westours - car numbered WTMC 557 but not rebuilt. Car sold to Transcisco in 1991, reposessed after bankruptcy and moved to storage on Washington Central, then purchased 5/94 (800067). WCRC 557 was rebuilt for service on "Atlantic Clipper" dinner train over the NYS&W - which never happened. Car sold 5/97 to BC Rail as "Stardust" for the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train. Car had the "Temple Treatment" i.e. fluting added to lower car sides.


56 "Knik"

MILW 56 - became CN 2403 "Fraser" (1/65), CN 2703 (4/74), VIA 2703 (3/78), retired 6/81, 4/83 Great Western Tours thru J Baldwin, 2/84 Tour Alaska TAIX 7091 (800485) "Mt. Susitna", P & O Princess California Sun Express, Amtrak 9312 (HEP)-1990 AT service, Holland America Westours (1995) - began service 1996 - for sale 6/2002 - name recycled to new #1051. Sold to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway 9/05.

The link below will take you to John Combs web page on the Alaska RR, with a history of the Westours cars. Remember you will need to use "back" to return to this site.












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