Rocky Mountaineer adds capacity, offers discounts

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Stadler-built GoldLeaf dome No. 9541 in Rocky Mountaineer’s Kamloops yard on Oct 9, 2018. It is equipped with air spring primary suspension trucks with a mechanical spring secondary suspension.
Three photos, Bob Johnston
VANCOUVER, B.C. – New bilevel GoldLeaf domes built by Stadler Rail A.G. in Switzerland and Germany that are joining Rocky Mountaineer daytime consists this year will augment capacity on four routes radiating from Vancouver [see “Rocky domes ready to roll,” March 2019]. And for the first time, the company is adding “self-drive” package options to both ease the burden on limited overnight accommodations and attract travelers who might prefer a less regimented wilderness experience

Although the cars employ new technology such as dimmable tinted upstairs glass, European-type air-spring trucks, and many behind-the-scenes improvements apparent only to car hosts and mechanical staff, they were purposely designed to mimic the 16 GoldLeaf domes constructed by Colorado Railcar between 1995 and 2007 before the carbuilder exited the business.

Up to four Stadler vehicles are expected to join Rocky Mountaineer excursions for the 2019 season. Trains toured the first to arrive, No. 9541, in October 2018; the other three are Nos. 9543, 9545, and 9547.

April 15 is the initial departure from Vancouver on the “First Passage to the West” route to Lake Louise and Banff, Alberta. (The train continues on to Calgary without passengers to be serviced for the return trip the next morning). On April 16, the first “Journey Through the Clouds” trip leaves Vancouver for Jasper. Both itineraries are two-day journeys with an overnight stop at Kamloops.
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Diagram at Rocky Mountaineer headquarters that shows trainset locations on Oct 9, 2018.
The two consists, which Rocky Mountaineer designates as the “A Train” and “B Train,” then embark on a complicated choreography of comings and goings in a pattern that repeats every two weeks. Some trips operate between Vancouver and Kamloops as one consist and then split for Jasper and Banff; others run exclusively to and from both destinations. On Saturdays from May 18 to Sept. 19, part of the Vancouver layover set makes a round-trip to Seattle as the “Coastal Passage” add-on to Banff itineraries. A third, smaller trainset handles “Rainforest to Gold Rush” excursions to Jasper via former BC Rail trackage to Prince George with overnight British Columbia stops at Whistler and Quesnel.

Exact 2019 departure dates are listed on page 96 of the Rocky Mountaineer 2019 brochure.

The new self-drive package options offer overnight accommodations outside of touristy Jasper and Banff, whose limited upscale hotel capacity have effectively restricted the number of passengers the train can handle since stays are required on the same night for both arriving guests and those departing the next morning.
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Mounted patrolman Rick Wanless and horse Bueno welcome arriving Rocky Mountaineer passengers to Kamloops on Oct 9, 2018.
The company hopes to also attract more adventure and outdoor-oriented vacationers who rent cars at Banff and stay several days outside of town in hotels at nearby Canmore (where Rocky Mountaineer onboard crews also spend the night) and other mountain resort venues.

Extended through the end of February to encourage sampling of the new offerings, the company has been promoting a $240 “Classic Journey Offer” discount in GoldLeaf service and up to $400 per couple in additional hotel nights and other perks for travelers taking advantage of the self-drive “Stay and Play” packages,

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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