WASHINGTON — Amtrak service to Roanoke, Virginia, returns Oct. 31, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation is literally hitching a ride.
Using a fully-restored historic Moonlight Dome Lounge Car, the museum is offering private rail car service between Roanoke and D.C. Nov. 10 through Nov. 13. The dome car will be attached to the rear of the regularly scheduled Amtrak trains.
The excursions promise an intimate experience with top-end meals, beer and wine and serving staff.
“The quality of service is beyond what you would get on Amtrak,” said Adam Auxier, director of excursions for the Virginia Museum of Transportation. “There’s a little more space in the dome car, and the food and beverage service we offer is service you just can’t get on Amtrak in this region.”
The private train service will raise money for the museum’s Fire Up 611 Committee, formed in 2013 for restoration work on the Class J steam locomotive Norfolk and Western No. 611.
“This is part of the ongoing effort to keep 611 running,” said museum executive director Bev Fitzpatrick. “It is an expensive locomotive to maintain and operate, and we have to continue to come up with ways to raise money.”
The Dome Car was built in 1948, and was a top-of-the-line car at the time, including the first use of individual reading lights, piped-in music to the headrests — even aquariums.
The car has since been fully refurbished and includes all new interior.
One-way tickets are $225. There is more information about the excursions on its website.
Here is the schedule:
- Nov. 10 – Leave Washington, D.C. 4:50 p.m. Arrive Roanoke 9:55 p.m.
- Nov. 11 – Leave Washington, D.C. 4:35 p.m. Arrive Roanoke 9:33 p.m.
- Nov. 12 – Leave Washington, D.C. 4:50 p.m. Arrive Roanoke 9:48 p.m.
- November 11 – Leave Roanoke 8:40 a.m. Arrive Washington, D.C. 1:35 p.m.
- November 12 – Leave Roanoke 8:40 a.m. Arrive Washington, D.C. 1:35 p.m.
- November 13 – Leave Roanoke 6:19 a.m. Arrive Washington, D.C. 11:20 a.m.
While these are the only currently scheduled runs, the museum says it is considering future trips.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation, in Roanoke, houses the largest collection of locomotives in the mid-Atlantic region, as well as model trains and automotive and aviation exhibits.
It’s housed in the historic downtown Roanoke Norfolk & Western Freight Depot.
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