Amtrak Great Dome Car Exterior

Panoramic Views of the California Coast from the Great Dome

Amtrak’s Great Dome car recently returned to the Pacific Surfliner for a few weeks, offering spectacular views of the breathtaking Southern California scenery along our 351-mile route.

With upper-level windows on all sides, including facing forward and reverse, riders in this vintage rail car enjoyed 360-degree views of towering bluffs, sun-drenched beaches and picturesque coastal towns. The large, domed windows allowed riders to appreciate scenery that isn’t as visible from a car, such as the rocky hillsides of the Santa Susanna Pass and the roadless, pastoral backcountry near the Vandenberg Air Force Base.

As the last rail car of its kind still operated by Amtrak, the Great Dome represents a piece of history. It is a rare opportunity for Southern California residents to get a glimpse into the past while also enjoying the views along the Pacific Surfliner route from a different perspective.

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The Great Dome is Leaving for Now, But Will be Back in the Fall!

Due to necessary maintenance work, the Great Dome will be removed from service after August 7, 2017 and will not run on the Pacific Surfliner again this summer as previously indicated on the schedule. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. However, there is good news – the Great Dome will return to the Pacific Surfliner in October 2017!

Follow us on Twitter (@PacSurfliners) for train status updates and other information.

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History of the Great Dome Car

The Great Dome car was built in 1955 for the Great Northern Railway and was brought to Amtrak in the early 1970s. After being renovated in 1985, it traveled as part of the Amtrak Auto Train between Washington, D.C. and Orlando. Since then, it has been once again refurbished, traveling across the country with various Amtrak trains.

Stay Connected

We’ll share updates about the Great Dome and other train status information on our @PacSurfliners Twitter account throughout the summer. Don’t forget to share your photos with us using the hashtag #PacificSurfliner!

26 comments

  1. I had already purchased a ticket for this train. Will the dome car still be offered to me? Yes, it’s business class.

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    1. Hi Toni, anyone with a Business Class ticket for a train with the Great Dome is welcome to explore and sit in it. Seats on the upper-level are first-come, first-served to Business Class riders. Please note – the trains that will have the Great Dome are subject to change. We’ll continue to update the table above with the latest information. Thanks!

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  2. I will be in San Diego on Tuesday August 8 and would love a train with a dome car. When will the trains with the dome car on that date be available?

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      1. Too bad. I’ll be in San Diego that one day and I’ll be arriving by thru way bus from Bakersfield at 5AM too late to catch that 4AM train with the dome I m flying back from LA that evening and unfortunately the Soutbound Surfliner from Santa Barbara will arrive too late. I did plan to schedule my day hopefully finding a train with a dome car. As a train nut,I am bussing overnight to San Diego just to ride the Surfliner! Maybe next time

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  3. My in-laws from Ohio are coming. This would be fun to do with our kids. Is there a dome car scheduled on August 18th or August 21st? We would go from Solana Beach to San Juan Capistrano for a day trip. We could catch the train either direction to experience the some car. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Mike, unfortunately, the Great Dome car will be with us only through August 11. After that, it’s headed to the East Coast for a while. However, you can still enjoy beautiful ocean views from our other Pacific Surfliner rail cars! There are beautiful ocean views on that portion of the route.

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  4. Have plans been made for Great Dome train assignments after August 6? I’ll be able to ride on August 9 and would like to make plans. Thanks for bringing this special car to the Surfliner!

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    1. Hi David, we just now updated the blog with the new dates! On August 9 the Great Dome is expected to be on Trains 761 and 790 (which travels the whole length of our corridor). Should you make your Business Class reservation and the equipment changes, you can call the 800 number in advance of your trip and update the reservation. Please let us know if you have any questions, and enjoy!

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      1. Hi David, we apologize, but due to necessary maintenance work, the Great Dome will be out of service on the Pacific Surfliner after today (August 7) so it will not be in operation on August 9. We apologize for this. If you would like to change or cancel your reservation, you can do so by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. The good news is that the Great Dome is returning in October, so there will be other chances to ride it along our route.

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    1. Hi Jim, as of now, the Great Dome is expected to be on Train 582 on Tuesday, August 8 next week. We just updated the schedule through August 11, so if Tuesday isn’t good for your schedule maybe one of the other trains/days will work!

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  5. Need help from PSL. Arriving LA 8/16, planning to resv 2 business class to San Diego. No more Dome beyond 8/11? Oh well, suggest best time to catch sunset on either the 4p or 5p train leaving Union Sta.? Note lots of delays, perhaps 4p better. Land in LA 10am, lunch w fav niece in S. Monica then off to Union Sta. Suggestions? Will have 2 luggage to check.
    Grateful for help.
    Gloria

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    1. Hi Rebecca, are you looking to travel to the Ventura County Fair? From Simi Valley to Ventura, it would cost $17 each way, but we have discounts available (listed on our website) that can help save on the cost of your ticket. The Ventura Station is located steps away from the fair entrance! To plan your trip, just visit our website and click on “Tickets”.

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  6. Addendum to above comment: I decided to just resv 2 Business class for the 4:08p 8/16 to accommodate for delays if any. No Dome car beyond 8/11?? is 45 min early enough to check baggage? Thanks for any assist, my husband and I are looking forward to the trip.
    Gloria

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    1. 45 minutes is the recommended time, but if it is your first time at the station, it might be best to arrive earlier just to give yourself plenty of time. And yes, unfortunately the Great Dome will be out of service on the Pacific Surfliner soon, but it will return in October 2017!

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