Princess Cruises "Midnight Sun Express"
Pulled behind the Alaska RR Anchorage-Fairbanks service, Princess has a fleet of "Ultra-Dome" railcars. On the upper level they have seating with a full-service bar, while the downstairs has dining, kitchen, a gift shop, and an open viewing platform.
The service began with "Alaska Tour Operators" by Tom Rader in 1982 with cruise operations, then became "Tour Alaska" in 1983 with private cars on Alaska Railroad trains. In 1984 they acquired 4 ex-Milwakee Road domes (50-52-56-59), and refurbished 3 using parts from a 5th car (MILW 54) and began the "Midnight Sun Express". In 1986 P&O (Princess) acquired "Tour Alaska", and the 4th dome went into service in 1987.
In 1988, the first four "Ultra Domes" went into service, replacing the ex MILW cars.
Princess tried a brief run on Amtrak's Coast Starlight as the "California Sun Express" in 1990 with 3 of the cars owned by Tour Alaska that had been idled when Princess introduced the "Ultra Domes", using MILW 50-52-56. The experiment was cancelled the same year, with the 3 cars being bought by Amtrak for Auto Train service, and the 4th (MILW 59) going to Washington Central for dinner train service.
The "Ultra Domes" were converted from SP "gallery" commute cars by a joint venture between Tilamook Railcar Repair (headed by that same Tom Rader) and Bob Steele & Associates.
In 1987, "Tour Alaska" purchased the following SP "gallery" cars:
3700-3709 (PS) 1955
3710-3730 (ACF) 1957
3731-3745 (PS) 1969
The first four "Ultra Domes" were:
7080 - Denali - kitchen - SP3734
7081 - Gates of the Arctic - obs - SP3740
7082 - Katmai - kitchen - SP 3744
7083 - Kenai Fjords - obs - SP3745
The above cars operate in "pairs" for the kitchen facilities. Series II (1992) and series III (1997) cars added are self-contained with a kitchen, and can operate independently.
added in 1992:
7084 - Glacier Bay - SP37?? (800598)
7085 - Wrangell/St Elias - SP 37?? (800599)
2 more cars were added in 1997
A link is provided below to John Comb's Alaska RR page that contains a history of the cars. Remember that you will need to use "back" to return to this site.