It seems summer has abruptly ended in New England. Crisp fall air and a distinct 30-degree drop in nighttime temperatures means fall is just around the corner and, with it, the annual turning of the leaves. Amtrak is adding a healthy dose of retro “leaf-peeping” to this year’s foliage season, and rail passengers can get in on the action for free.
For the second year in a row, the iconic railway’s vintage Dome Car has returned to service in New England. The unique 1955 car is the last of its kind and the only one in service. It boasts Amtrak’s classic red, white, and blue exterior coloring, but the interior is recognizable as something altogether different. Deep cobalt blue carpeting and vintage salmon-colored swivel chairs and tables line the aisle of the upper level like something out of an early Mad Men episode. But the most noticeable difference is the long rows of panoramic windows that run the entire length of the car. The curved glass reaches from the seat-backs up and into part of the roof, providing a perfect, 360-degree vantage point for viewing the fall foliage.
The Amtrak Dome Car is routinely in service on the West Coast and has been since it received a full restoration in 1999. The car previously only spent time in the Northeast during the fall when it toured upstate New York among the foliage of the Adirondacks. In 2016, Maine rail authorities inquired whether the car could be re-purposed for additional service in New England in-between the summer and late fall season on the West Coast. The trial was such a hit that it’s returning in time for the 2017 foliage.
Through September 24, 2017, the car will run four trips daily along Amtrak’s Downeaster route. The trip connects Brunswick, Maine with Boston, Massachusetts and passes some of the region’s most beautiful natural scenery, including streams, marshes, and the Atlantic coastline. The best part is that seating in the Dome Car requires no special ticketing or advanced reservations — space is available to anyone on the Downeaster route. However, the non-reservable seats are first-come, first-served, and they fill up fast. Officials note that passengers looking for a seat are encouraged to arrive well in advance of their departure to guarantee a spot. Good luck!
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