- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009

The rail car President-elect Barack Obama will ride to Washington for his inauguration contains the trappings of a fine hotel or yacht, with painted walls, cherry wood, brass Pullman lamps and modern amenities for a comfortable ride.

The Georgia 300, a shiny blue car built in 1930, can hold six to eight people comfortably for Saturday’s ride from Philadelphia. The leased car is plush and upholstered, with a kitchen and two living areas as well as a bedroom and dining room.

“It is modernized and upgraded, but it doesn’t show that,” said Jack Heard, who owns the rail car. “It still displays the grandeur of the 1930s.”

The car was first built by Pullman Standard for the Southern Railway, when the car was known as the General Polk and used by railroad officials.

Georgia Railroad later acquired it in 1954, and Mr. Heard, who is president of First Coach Rail Inc., bought it in 1986. It was a prized purchase for a man who recalls seeing the car as a boy in Atlanta.

Mr. Heard has made a series of electrical and plumbing upgrades to the car over the years.

“It had deteriorated and I completely rebuilt it,” said Mr. Heard, of Fernandina Beach, Fla.

The Georgia 300 was used as a support car in 1992 by the first President Bush during his campaign.

“I guess they liked the car, and it was tapped again to be used for the Clinton campaign in 1996 as his personal car, and it just kept on,” Mr. Heard said.

It also was used during Sen. John Kerry’s campaign in 2004. Mr. Kerry, like Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama, is a Democrat. Mr. Bush is a Republican.

Mr. Obama is already acquainted with the rail car, which he used in April on a whistle-stop tour from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pa.

His 135-mile tour from Philadelphia to Washington is meant to mirror President Lincoln’s 1861 journey by train for his inauguration.


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