Iowa Pacific dinner trains score; E8 to be repainted IC colors

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CHICAGO — Iowa Pacific’s “Dining with Pullman” dinner and brunch trains this past weekend sold out and provided valuable training for the company’s planned Pullman service on the rear of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and City of New Orleans passenger trains.
 
If you were lucky enough to be on board or trackside, you got to experience a one-shot trip and most likely the last operation of Arizona Eastern E8 No. 6070 in black and silver colors inspired by Southern Pacific’s “Black Widow” paint scheme.
 
The company that owns Colorado’s San Luis & Rio Grande and New York’s Saratoga & North Creek short lines, among others, operated the dinner trains Friday and Saturday nights and a brunch train Sunday between Chicago and Sturtevant, Wis., on the route of Amtrak’s Hiawatha and Empire Builder trains. Equipment consisted of Iowa Pacific’s two full-length domes, New York Central diner 448, sleeper-lounge Adirondack Club in IC colors, and round-end observation car Eaton. The trains carried about 90 passengers each who paid $120.
 
Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis told TRAINS News Wire on Monday that the trips were run as a training experience for Chef Dan Traynor and the development team working on the Pullman Sleeping Car Co. LLC, which will launch Pullman service later this year, running as private cars coupled to the two Amtrak trains. (For details, see www.travelpullman.com.)
 
“Dan is a full-time executive chef who has some on-train experience, but he and the development team needed to understand what it’s like to set up and operate out the Amtrak Chicago coach yard, which is where the Pullman trips will be based,” Ellis said. “Amtrak was very cooperative and helpful, and did a great job with the train.”
 
Iowa Pacific plans to repaint E8 No. 6070 into Illinois Central’s chocolate and orange scheme, letter it Iowa Pacific, and mate it with another former Chicago & North Western E8, also in IC colors, for future outings. The other unit is under refurbishment at National Railway Equipment in Silvis, Ill. The two units will be stationed at the Chicago Terminal Railroad in Bensenville/Elk Grove Village for charters and specials, including an April 28-May 4 special over former Frisco, Texas & Pacific, and Rock Island trackage. (For details, see www.highirontravel.com.)
 
The company also bought six Maryland commuter cars that were former Pennsylvania Railroad Budd coaches, and is upgrading two more domes so that by this summer it can field a train seating 750 for specials and charters.


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