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A tour of Rocky Mountaineer 9509

I found myself in Kamloops, BC in mid-July to take a little getaway before starting my business in August of 2003. This was my first trip to the area, and I spent a day fanning the Rocky Mountaineer's run from Banff back to Kamloops, then whiled out the evening taking roster shots of each of the domes in the RMR fleet.

It was quite dark when I began touring cars and shooting, and well after 10 p.m. when I declared that I had shot the entire fleet and called it a night. Back in my hotel room pouring over my notes, I discovered that I had indeed missed one - the 9509, and decided to venture back to the Kamloops station at 6 a.m. the next morning to tour the car before its departure. In retrospect, I should have done the entire fleet that morning, as the photos were stunning.

The train to Vancouver has already left, and the 9509 is staged and ready as the last car on the train headed to Banff and Calgary, AB. The early sunlight illuminated the side of the car beautifully. Despite being the first photo presented in the tour, this is actually the last photo I took.

The historic Canadian National depot in Kamloops is not only the departure point for all Rocky Mountaineer trains, but also the home of a beautifully maintained steam engine that operates in excursion service on summer weekends. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stick around long enough to ride or watch the steam operations.

Passengers board the RMR domes from the platform seen in the above photo, and climb to the dome level via the spiral staircase seen on the right.

With passenger busses closing in on the CN depot, the 9509 is in full excursion trim, with coffee decanters and carafes of orange juice lined up along the service bar on the end of the car. Also noteworthy is the doors at the extreme right of the photo, just inward from the stairs, which lead to the wheelchair lift from the lower level.

Turned the other direction, we look down the length of the dome. All of the seats are in travel form, with linens over the headrests and pillows conveniently placed for passengers. This photo also illustrates a trait unique to the RMR fleet — the smaller windows, which are only the length of one row of seats. Most cars (including the brand new RMR 9521) have longer windows that span two rows of seats.

The cars have stairs on both ends, and we are now at the other end of the car headed downstairs. I really liked this etched glass partition with the Rocky Mountaineer logo on it. Very classy looking. Coming up the stairs from the lower level, the etched glass picking up the sunlight through the spacious windows is quite dramatic.

Back on the service bar end of the car, we get a little bit better look at the stairwell and wheelchair lift.

One of the features of the ultradomes that sets them apart from the older domes is their accessibility, a feature that wasn't possible when the earlier domes rolled off the assembly floors.

Also noteworthy is the spiral staircase, which saves quite a bit of space over the standard straight staircase.

The dining area of the 9509 is also ready for customers as the busses draw closer. Fine china and white linen accents the dining atmosphere.

With dining area seating for 36, the 9509 can accommodate all of its passengers in two seatings. With two to three meals a day to serve, this will be a busy place for most of the trip.

A closer look at one of the tables and its place settings. Even the downstairs tables feature large picture windows for great viewing. And yes, those are fresh flowers on the table.

Opulent settings is another of the ultradome signatures. On the Rocky Mountaineer, several of the cars are used on each train to provide "Gold Leaf" service, which is significantly upscale from the standard "Red Leaf" coach service. While the dome seating is the major selling point, the fine dining only enhances the experience.

The open platform gives passengers the chance to view things in a little bit more outdoorsy setting.

With the traps open for boarding, you would get on an off via the steps that are exposed on the left side of the platform. The traps on the right side are closed up. When closed and in running trim, the platform measures six feet by 10 feet, with plenty of room for everyone to get a great view.

This concludes my tour of the Rocky Mountaineer's 9509. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did shooting it. Look for more RMR tours in 2004, when we seek out the newest cars in the fleet. Until then, thanks for viewing.

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