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Holland America New Dome Cars

McKinley Explorer® Colorado Railcars
Fact Sheet


  • Height: 18 feet 1 inch
  • Length: 89 feet
  • Width: 10 feet
  • Overall Square Footage: 1,750 square feet (860 upper level; 890 lower level)
  • Capacity: 88 passengers; 44 in the dining room
  • Cost: $3 million
  • Seats: 21.5 inches per passenger
  • Outdoor Platform: 9 feet X 10 feet
  • Step up to seat: 4 inches
  • Restrooms: 2
  • ADA Facilities: 3 wheelchair accessible seats in B car
    ADA lavatory in A and B cars
    wheelchair lifts in B car
  • Air Conditioning: Four separate air conditioning systems
  • Emergency Exits: 8
  • Smoking: Interiors are smoking free. Smoking permitted on outdoor platforms.


  • Sculptures: One in each car. All (4) are of whalebone by Alaska Artists, Ron Ekemo and Chupak; valued at $20,000.
  • Wall Art in Dining Room: Artist, WYNBIA, Rhubarb Alley, Seattle. Two layers of lit, etched glass activated by speed of moving train.
  • Upholstery: Designed by Donna Barron Design Group; woven in Switzerland.
  • Carpet: Designed by Donna Barron Design Group; woven by Lantal of Zurich, Switzerland; diagonal design pattern to visually expand space.
  • Colors: Found in nature: green of Alaska Jade, purple of native wild iris; "honey" of fall tundra grasses.
  • Dining Room: Mirrored pilasters; upholstered cornice boards and Roman window shades. Black and "honey" plus velvet seat backs with purple accents in elegant "tile" design; seat cushions in classic black European leather.
  • Custom Ambient Lighting/Dining Room: Inspired by image of ice caught in tree branches; designed by Donna Barron; manufactured by Nemco Custom Lighting, Seattle.
  • Lower Lounge: Furnished with built-in leather sofa and two chenille upholstered armchairs with small black granite bistro table.


  • Largest passenger railcars in the world
  • More glass per passenger than any other dome railcar in Alaska
  • Full 360-degree view
  • More interior space than any other dome railcar in Alaska
  • Widest dome passenger seats
  • Dining in two sittings rather than three
  • Each car has an open-air viewing platform
  • Every other car has a lower level observation lounge
  • New cars are less "boxy" than competitors' cars reflecting the classic exteriors of the historic Budd railcars
  • GPS-guided narration system and six-channel music and emergency system
  • Handheld PDA's for waitstaff improve dining and cocktail service efficiency
  • Onboard luggage storage eliminates luggage under the seats

Holland America Line Inc. is adding four completely new bi-level dome dining-lounge cars to its current Fairbanks-Anchorage rail service on the Alaska Railroad's passenger trains. These cars have been built to a new design by Tom Rader's Colorado Railcar Manufacturing Co. at Fort Lupton, Colorado, just north of Denver. At 18 ft 2 inches tall, and 89 feet long (4 feet longer and two feet taller than most Amtrak Superliner and other passenger cars), these new domes are being billed by Holland America as the world's largest passenger cars.

Holland America's press release about these cars is available at:

The first two cars, numbered and named HALX 1050 "Kenai" and HALX 1051 "Knik," left the Fort Lupton plant March 13 on UP's local freight train to Denver Union Station where they went on display to travel professionals and the public March 14 -15. These two cars departed Denver on BNSF freight train H-DENBAR-1-21 at 428am Saturday Mar22, and arrived Albuquerque NM just 24 hours later at 430am Mar23. They were expected to leave Albuquerque at 13:00 Mar23 on the same train, and arrive Barstow Tuesday morning Mar25, connecting into Los Angeles 8th Street coach yard by Thursday morning Mar27.

These two cars (HALX 1050 and 1051) are scheduled to go on display to travel professionals and the public at the following confirmed locations:

LOS ANGELES - Union Station Garden Tracks - Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Mar28-29-30.

SAN DIEGO - SD&IV RR Yard track 9, (South of 8th Street just east of Harbor Drive). - Wed Apr02.

FULLERTON CA - Transportation Center/Amtrak Station private car tracks - Fri-Sat-Sun Apr04-05-06.

Public display hours at each venue are typically 1000am - 200pm and 300pm-500pm. Travel Professional display hours are typically 700pm - 900pm. Movements between displays will be either BNSF freight trains or Amtrak special passenger trains.

As these two cars work their way north toward a scheduled April 23 Alaska Railroad barge sailing from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska, where they begin service May 16, they are tentatively scheduled for additional public display. Click here to view the current schedule.

The second two cars, HALX 1052 "Chena" and 1053 "Kobuk" are now scheduled to leave the Colorado Railcar plant about April 2 enroute to Seattle for an April 16 Alaska barge sailing. Movement may be either on Amtrak passenger or BNSF freight trains.

HALX 1050 and 1052 are described as "a-type" cars with a full-service kitchen to serve two cars, and 1051 and 1053 are "b-type" cars with a lower-level open-air observation platform instead of a kitchen.

These new cars will replace four of the ex-ATSF full-domes built in 1954 and rebuilt by Holland America in the late 1980's for Alaska Service. Holland America has several recently-rebuilt ex-ATSF and ex-MILW full dome cars for sale in Alaska.

Information provided courtesy of Bill Farmer.

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