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Holland America 1055 under construction

I picked a great time to visit Colorado Railcar's shops in Ft. Lupton, CO., as my Nov. 2003 visit coincided with the construction of several cars, including the last four cars of an eight car order for Holland America. During the tour, I had the chance to take a walk through HALX 1055, one of four Holland America cars which are in the final stages of construction in anticipation of their March, 2004 delivery. I also toured Rocky Mountaineer 9523, which was in an earlier phase of construction.

At first examination, the 1055 appears to be nearly done. A coat of paint has been applied to the car's exterior, making it look nearly like its in service appearance. The only thing lacking is car numbers and name. But there is actually quite a bit of work left to do, as evidenced by the lack of trucks, and the several missing windows in the dome and on the sides.

All the same, the 1055 had a much more completed feel than the RMR 9523. Once we boarded, we could see that the observation platform was taking shape. The doors to the right of the traps are for the wheelchair lifts that allow disabled passengers to board the car. One of the greatest assets of the ultradome cars is the ADA accessibility, which is unrivaled in the industry.

One thing that really surprised me was how much "finish" work had been done to the cars already. I wasn't expecting to see paint and lettering, or dome glass. Or for that matter shiny chromed railings or carpet. I guess it's all got to be installed sometime, but I would have figured that would be the sort of thing that would be installed last.

The 1055 is a B car, with an outdoor observation platform in place of the larger dining room.

Inside, the finish look is evident as well. Right of center is the wheelchair lift, which is installed and getting a little final work. Unlike Rocky Mountaineer, which hides the lift doors in the kitchen, the Holland America cars have the lift a little more out in the open.

Upstairs, the car has several wheelchair tiedowns, including one in the lift itself. Total seating is 89. Only the B cars have the wheelchair lifts installed.

This area will eventually be a small lounge and gift shop, with seating off to the left of the frame. The car's restrooms are right where the people are standing; the ADA restroom is on the left side of the hall, and a smaller standard restroom is on the right.

Looking back toward the gift shop/lounge from the dining room. Chair frames for the dining booths are installed on one side already, and most of the glass is in place down here too. Eventually, this car will have a 40 seat dining area, while the A cars will have a 44 seat dining area and a full kitchen, but no platform or lounge.

The Holland America cars feature a unique selectable CD stereo system with built in headphone jacks in each seat's armrest. Passengers can choose from a variety of music, and even bring their own CD's to listen to. One of the selections is also broadcast throughout the car.

The flip side of that system is that it requires a lot of additional wiring. When we toured the 1055, that system was in the process of installation. While I didn't hear exactly how much wiring it takes to get one of these cars out the door, I was told that they all leave the shop with "several miles" of wiring for the various systems.

Note also that most of the traffic areas in the car do have some sort of carpet protection in place, like the plastic runner down the center of the dome.

The dome section is really starting to come together, and closely resembles the finished product seen in the tour of the 1050 and 1051 in Seattle. (Sans seats, of course.)

It looks like the second group of four cars for Holland America will be decorated exactly the same as the first four were.


In addition to the 1055, Colorado Railcar had three other cars under construction for Holland America. Car 1054 is similar in design to the 1055, but lacks the end observation platform. In its place, the car features a larger kitchen and dining area.

Note that there are no tracks on the floor of the shop. The cars will not touch rail for the first time until being taken outside shortly before final assembly and delivery.

The 1056 also lacks the platform, and is considered an A car by Holland America. The 1054 and 1056 were slightly earlier in the construction process than the B cars, 1055 and 1057. Note the framing underneath the car where the generators, air conditioning units and other equipment will be slung.

Following construction, the A cars were rolled out in mid-February, 2004.


Like the 1055, Holland America 1057 already had exterior paint and most of its windows. I didn't get a chance to tour the inside of this car, but I understand that it was coming along fairly rapidly. The 1057 was rolled out of the shop about a week after the 1055, in Feb., 2004.

It was really fascinating to see the car taking shape, and like the 9523 I look forward to touring the car again when it is completed. As I understand it, the second group of cars is to be delivered to Holland America in Seattle sometime in March. I imagine we'll catch up with the 1055 again there.

If you haven't already checked them out, I'd like to invite you to take a look at several other photo features from my recent tour of Colorado Railcar's plant, including a tour of Rocky Mountaineer 9523, a look at demo cars LC-2 and SC-1, and on overview of the shop area.

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