Platform riding, open air cars still available on North American tourist lines

Amtrak's recent private car rule will send experience seekers elsewhere in railroad tourism
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Rocky Mountaineer's GoldLeaf class equipment displays an open platform at Jasper, Alberta, in August 2009.
Steve Hobson
You may no longer be allowed to experience platform riding and open vestibules on Amtrak routes, but these amenities still appear frequently on tourist railroads and other passenger trains across North America.

Several tourist railroads in the U.S. still allow riders to safely enjoy platform riding or an open-air car experience. Often linked to first class or premium services, platform cars also come with limited seating, a broader selection of food and beverages – and a higher fare. For example, the Grand Canyon Railway’s standard Pullman class lists adult prices at $67, compared with its luxury parlor class at $226 per adult.

Luxury parlor access gains access to a rear platform and a host of other first class amenities unavailable in other cars. In the U.S., riders can enjoy platform access by upgrading on the Alaska Railroad’s GoldStar service, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s Lookout Mountain railcar in Colorado, and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad’s New Tygart Flyer in West Virginia. In Duluth, Minn., the North Shore Scenic Railroad offers access to its premier class business car, Northland, on select excursions.

Broadening your travels outside of the U.S. will yield additional platform-riding opportunities.

While not always guaranteed to be the rear-most car, the Rocky Mountaineer’s GoldLeaf service features an exclusive outdoor viewing platform as riders traverse the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian luxury rail company recently purchased new Swiss and German-built bilevel domes featuring lower level platforms. The White Pass & Yukon Route between Skagway, Alaska, and Carcross, Yukon Territory, also features a platform car on its Bennett Scenic Journey.

In northern Mexico, the Copper Canyon’s El Chepe offers platform access on its route between Chihuahaa and the Pacific coast at Los Mochis.

While current policies may prohibit platform riding across Glacier Park on the route of Amtrak’s Empire Builder or on the Southwest Chief in Kansas, visiting these tourist railroads and others across North America will still give you a glimpse into this unique railroading pastime.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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