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Delivering Holland America's New Domes, Part 1

With a year of dome-chasing experience under my belt, catching up with the latest delivery of Colorado Railcar domes was fairly easy. When the cars arrived in Pasco, WA on BNSF train M-LACPAS, I was able to catch up with them and get some interior and exterior photos.

Finding the cars on the morning of March 14 wasn't as easy as I had hoped. After much searching, I finally spotted the cars in the middle of the yard, having already been switched onto the back of the M-PASINB that was to depart later in the morning. A quick stop by the yard office, and I was on my way to the cars.

IMPORTANT NOTE! I entered BNSF's Pasco yard only after receiving the proper permission. Please remember that railroad yards are private property, and unauthorized entry is trespassing. This site does not promote trespassing, nor does it recommend it. If something is important enough to merit your attention, then we would suggest making your case to the proper authority, and being willing to graciously accept no as a possible answer.

For the most part, Holland America's new domes are exact duplicates of the previous four cars, which I toured last year. When I found the cars, they were staged at the end of train M-PASINB-14, a Pasco to Interbay, WA manifest freight. An overcast had dawned over the Pasco yards, but was soon to be replaced by sunny skies as I began my tour. From this end, the cars are: HALX 1056 (named Chulitna), 1055 (Nenana), 1054 (Eklutna) and 1057 (Talkeenta).

One thing that was different in this order of dome cars was the installation of the dining room artwork, which wasn't put into the first cars until it arrived in Seattle. Though not well displayed in this photo, the glass wall hanging at right actually changes colors as the train moves, via a set of computerized motion detectors, and a number of fiberoptic lights .

One of the other minor variations in the design is the removal of the lighting that accented the edges of each step in the stairway. Note the marble tiles on the wall outside the staircase, and the Holland America logo etched into the glass on the door. I didn't get good photos of this feature on the other cars, but it was present.

On the A type cars (with a kitchen, but without the observation platform and ADA elevator) like the 1056, the end stairway is tucked right into the back corner of the car. All of the HALX domes feature two stairways, one on each end of the cars. There is also a microphone for the cars' internal PA system, used by narrators during the trips.

Upstairs in HALX 1055, the Nenana, you can see that the decoration more or less follows the pattern set in the original cars. Too bad the view was only of a bunch of freight cars in a busy yard. Passengers in Alaska are far more fortunate.

All of the cars feature the same basic configuration on the leading end that we see here on the 1054: Stairway on one side, and a small service bar (with liberal storage, as you can see) for serving drinks and light fare to riders during their trip. One thing of note is the sculpture on the top of the stairwell. As with the previous order, these cars feature installable tables. (See the tour of HALX 1050 and 1051 for details.) I did find it interesting that there is a similar table for passengers in the front row of seats, which folds down flush with the wall.

I can't comment too much about the selection of seat upholstery, which is very similar to that of the first cars, with a color palette chosen to reflect some of the colors of the natural Alaskan surroundings. One thing I will say is that it looks far more dramatic under direct sunlight.

Holland America's A cars (even numbered) feature a kitchen that would make any chef envious, so appointed since the cars travel in pairs, so kitchens like the one in the HALX 1054 must serve about 600 meals over the course of a day. And the HALX cars are outfitted for the task, with coolers, convection ovens, gas burners, freezer and even a dishwasher.

One feature I wasn't previously aware of is the small window in the galley. This handy feature for kitchen-bound staff yearning for a glimpse of the sun was first installed on Royal Celebrity Tours' second order of cars, RCIX 1003 and 1004, and carried on with the first order of Holland America cars.

Click here to proceed to page two of our tour, or use the back button on your browser to return to the car roster page that you came from.

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