Question: How much does it cost to charter, rent, or lease the DOVER HARBOR?
Answer: Very seldom do two events cost exactly the same, but we will be happy to provide you a quote once we have the details of your charter. We need to know things like where and when you (or your group) want to go, when you wish to return, how many people do you wish to travel, why types of food and beverage service do you desire, etc. There is basic information on our costs and pricing page. And just to reassure you, we don’t practice high-pressure sales tactics. The car and our service sell themselves.

The same answer applies for stationary charters.

Can a group of people charter the DOVER HARBOR?
Answer: Yes.  Many of our clients do this to share costs and still experience the wonder and elegance of first-class rail car travel.  With accommodations for 24 guests on day trips and up to 10 guests on overnight trips, sharing costs with friends, family, or anyone can make a DOVER HARBOR trip affordable for people who otherwise might not even consider an individual charter.

What’s your most popular trip?
 One-day round  trips to Williamsburg, Virginia  from Washington, D.C. Ask us for more information about this and all other destinations.

What is the schedule for the DOVER HARBOR?
Answer: The DOVER HARBOR does not run on a set schedule. We operate the car on a first-come first-serve basis. To find out if the DOVER HARBOR is available for specific dates, let us know the itinerary and dates you are interested in traveling. Most of our trips operate in concert with regular Amtrak trains on the schedule of Amtrak trains, though we occasionally can be found on trips on other railroads.

NOTE: Due to the historic nature of the car and the potential for freeze damage, we generally do not operate the car at all between the weekend before Thanksgiving and 15 March. You may ask.

When does DOVER HARBOR operate?
Answer: The car is generally available for charter between March 15th and the weekend before Thanksgiving. Within that timeframe, most of our trips operate in concert with regular Amtrak trains on the schedule of Amtrak trains, though we occasionally can be found on trips on other railroads. Due to the historic nature of the car and the potential for freeze damage, we generally do not operate the car at all between the weekend before Thanksgiving and 15 March. You may ask.

How many people can the DOVER HARBOR accommodate?
Answer: The DOVER HARBOR can accommodate 24 passengers on day trips and up to 10 passengers on overnight trips. At stationary charters, the car can usually accommodate about 30 people comfortably (but only 24 seated at one time). There is a shower for overnight guests.

If you want to take a bigger group on your journey, we can arrange for additional accommodations with other private cars. 

On occasion we have also had customers who wanted to take up to 24 people on an overnight trip.  It is also possible and economical to rent sleeping space from Amtrak on some routes.  This allows all members of your party to use the DOVER HARBOR during the day and still accommodates sleeping space for everyone on the train overnight. 

Some of our customers also  take long day trips and accommodate their guests in hotels during a layover before the return voyage.

Who makes arrangements with the railroads for a trip?
Answer: We typically make all the arrangements with the railroads for your trip. 

What arrangements are available for food and beverage service?
Answer: Depending upon your requirements and desires, we can either arrange for and prepare the food and beverage service, hire an outside chef, and/or work with a caterer of your choosing. We provide a menu tailored to your exact requirements and can make all the arrangements for you. It’s up to you. 

Who provides the crew for the DOVER HARBOR?
Answer: Crew for the DOVER HARBOR is included as part of a Charter. We generally provide a mechanical officer, who is responsible for the operation of the car and is the railroad liaison. We also provide  at least one Porter/steward who is responsible for  attending to  the needs of our passengers (making beds, beverages and snacks, meal service, cleaning). The steward may serve as the Chef or we may arrange separately for one, depending upon your needs.  Our staff  is very experienced, polished, and professional in the best traditions of first-class  service and the legendary Pullman Company. We always go the extra mile for our customers, and provide ‘service with a smile.’

Where does the DOVER HARBOR operate?
Answer: The car can travel anywhere in the Amtrak system (east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between), in Canada where Amtrak provides service, and on most freight or tourist railroads. For most of our charters, we make arrangements with Amtrak to attach the DOVER HARBOR to a regularly scheduled Amtrak train. However, the car is available for operation on freight railroads, public excursion trains, private trains, or other special rail services.  Let us know your needs, and we’ll see what we can do for you.

Who owns and operates the DOVER HARBOR?
Answer: The car is owned and operated by the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, Inc., a not-for-profit organization.

I have security and privacy concerns about my journey.  Do you have experience in transporting high-profile people in private and are you prepared to protect the privacy and security of such people?
Answer: Yes.  Put your mind at ease. We treat all charter and lease arrangements as private movements of the DOVER HARBOR and protect your privacy accordingly. We have had quite a few high-profile/important/famous  passengers and guests aboard the DOVER HARBOR where we had to address privacy and security concerns. Let us know what your concerns are.

Can I ride the DOVER HARBOR without chartering it?
Answer: Yes.  The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, Inc. operates occasional trips on the DOVER HARBOR. 

On day trips, can I use the bedrooms?
Answer: Yes.  We almost always have at least two bedrooms available for use on day trips.

What does the term ‘Private Varnish’ mean?
Answer: The term ‘Private Varnish’ dates to the late 1800s when private railroad cars, or more typically, the private cars of railroad officials were decorated with highly ornate wood interiors, frequently consisting of mahogany, walnut, oak, and other exotic woods; oftentimes with elaborate inlays and other decorations. These cars, both inside and out, were given numerous coats of polished varnish to protect the woods and finishes and it is from this, that the term ‘private varnish’ is derived. 

As time and technology marched on, railroad cars became made less and less of wood. During the ‘standard era’ of railroad car construction, passenger cars became largely constructed of steel. DOVER HARBOR is of this era of construction. It’s interior has only a small amount of actual wood (mahogany). It was common during the transition into this era however to have faux wood grain painted onto the steel interiors as passengers were accustomed to the wood, and the thinking was that steel was less posh of a material. Over time however, this practice was abandoned, and other decoration schemes were employed. DOVER HARBOR, to our knowledge, did not have any faux wood graining; today, it is painted as it was when rebuilt in 1934, with panels of several paint shades, and pen lining. This repainting has been accomplished via the use of the Pullman builder’s photographs which we have obtained. 

Varnish’ was also an appellation given to the premier trains of the day, as these cars too, would have had highly polished finishes. 

Do the shoe lockers work?
Answer:  Yes. On overnight trips our Porter will check the shoe lockers and as appropriate shine one pair of shoes per guest per night.

How fast can the DOVER HARBOR go?
Answer: The DOVER HARBOR can and does travel at  speeds up to 110 mph.

What is a heavy weight car?
Answer:  During the period between about 1910 and the mid nineteen thirties, most passenger cars were built with three axle trucks, concrete floors, and riveted, double-walled sides and often weighted 90 – 100 tons or more. This period was known as the standard era of passenger railroad car construction.  Beginning in the 1930s, passenger car bodies were constructed entirely of metal, welded, had  two-axle trucks, and weighted nominally about 45 – 50 tons.  Today, these cars are referred to as “lightweight” cars because of their relative light weight as compared to the standard era cars, which are now often often called heavyweights.  The DOVER HARBOR is a heavyweight car.  Heavyweight cars are known for their smooth ride and solid construction. 

Who should I talk to for more information?
Answer: Please talk to our Charter Agent.

Top photo by J. Lilly

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