Alaska Railroad 553 (Single Level Dome)
Notes: Along with several other cars, Alaska Railroad 553 was built for the ambitious Florida Fun Train, a service that had a very brief life running between Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, FL. The train had a total of four single level domes, along with two dining/restaurant cars, a theatre car and an innovative arcade car that included virtual reality games and video games. Unfortunately, the service quickly failed due to lack of ridership and some legal snarls, and the 553 and the rest of the train reposed until sold to the Alaska Railroad in 1999.
The 553 was constructed using the center sill of former Canadian National baggage car, CN 9302, which was built in June, 1958 and later became CN 9673 and VIA 9673 before being retired. The baggage car's body is still in use as a storage shed at CRM's plant.
After being renumbered and repainted at Colorado Railcar, the 551, 552, 553, 554 and business car 2000 (along with the other four FFT cars) were shipped to Alaska and placed in service on the Grandview Glacier Discovery Train between Anchorage and Grandview. I understand that the garish interiors intended to represent the flamboyance of the Florida lifestyle but out of place in Alaska will be replaced as they begin to wear.
Update: These cars are set to be refurbished over the winter 2004-2005 with larger seats. No word yet on exact styling, but the cars will retain their four-top table configuration.
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