Luxury train

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See caption
1888 poster for the Orient Express

Luxury trains are designed to offer a very comfortable ride and evoke an association with history and heritage. Operating in several countries, they are a premium travel option. Although some luxury trains (such as the Maharajas' Express) promote tourism in destinations across a continent, others take passengers on a long, leisurely ride through a single country.

Luxury train travel has become popular, and its proponents cite several advantages over air travel. Although air travel can be monotonous, passengers on a luxury train can see the local environment, social and economic conditions, and a myriad of colors during their travels. Unlike airplanes, luxury trains are spacious and have restaurants and bars, comfortable sleeping and seating areas and bathrooms.

History

Drawing of meals being served in a dining car
Illustration from 1885 Chicago & Alton Railroad timetable

Before sleeping and dining cars, long-distance train travel was an uncomfortable experience. George Pullman's first sleeping car, the Pioneer, was introduced in 1865; it was followed two years later by "hotel cars".[1] The Pioneer was the first railway carriage with dining and sleeping areas,[2] and the Pullman Car Company was founded in 1880.[1]

Georges Nagelmackers founded the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, creator of the Orient Express. Inspired by Pullman trains in the United States, Nagelmackers returned to Europe and built a fleet of over 30 luxury trains which traveled to several European destinations. He is credited with beginning the age of luxury trains and grand hotels.

The best-known luxury train was the Orient Express, the setting of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Europe's first luxury train, it began its maiden journey across Europe on 5 June 1883 from Paris' Gare de l'Est. Although the original Orient Express ceased operations in 2009, private operators and public-private joint ventures provide luxury train travel in several countries.

Belmond

Red locomotive pulling a long passenger train
Venice-Simplon Orient Express in Switzerland
Yellow-and-grey locomotive pulling a passenger train
Class 67, no. 67006 Royal Sovereign hauling the Northern Belle
Passenger cars in a station
Bangkok-bound Eastern and Oriental Express train at the Kuala Lumpur railway station

According to Belmond[3] (formerly known as Orient Express Hotels), the company operates the highest number of luxury train tours in the world. With service in Europe, Asia and South America, Belmond is the only private luxury tour provider (with the exception of Russia's Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Express) to offer continental or intercontinental service.[4]

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express, with service from London to Venice, was voted the number-one luxury train in the world in 2009.[5] The Royal Scotsman offers service across Scotland and, occasionally, the rest of Britain. The Belmond Grand Hibernian began operations in Ireland on 30 August 2016.

The Eastern and Oriental Express has service from Bangkok to Singapore (via Kuala Lumpur) and to Vientiane. Covering over 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi)[6] of peninsular Southeast Asia, its two-day journey has frequent stops at scenic locations.[7]

United Kingdom

Brown-and-tan passenger car
Former Brighton Belle Pullman carriage at London Victoria, now part of the Venice-Simplon Orient Express fleet

British Pullman cars were used on the Brighton Belle out of London Victoria station..[8]

Northern Belle

Northern Belle is a privately owned luxury train introduced in 2000. It consists primarily of British Rail Mark 2 coach stock, refurbished internally and painted externally to resemble the Brighton Belle's British Pullman coaches. Buffet cars are British Rail Mark 1 coaches. Although the train primarily operates in Northern England and Scotland, it also serves London and Bristol. The train has two British Rail Mark 3 sleeper coaches for its crew.[9] It departs from a number of northern cities, including Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. The Northern Belle has six dining cars named after historic British houses.[10]

Spain

Spain's state-owned network of luxury trains is operated by Renfe Operadora and runs from March to October on scheduled and charter trips. The main routes cross northern Spain and Andalusia, with special tours throughout the peninsula.

Al Ándalus

The Al Ándalus' luxury cars were built in France for use by members of the British monarchy when they travelled between Calais and the French Riviera. The main route takes passengers from Seville to Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Ronda, Granada, Úbeda, Baeza, Linares, Córdoba, Andalusia and back to Seville.

El Transcantábrico

The oldest tourist train in Spain (operating since 1983), the El Transcantábrico has original 1923 Pullman coaches.[11] There are two routes: the Gran Lujo between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela, and the Clasico between León and Santiago de Compostela via Bilbao.

El Expreso de la Robla

The common areas of El Expreso de La Robla are three air-conditioned coaches with bar service. The coaches, designed for conferences, talks, courses and meetings, have all required technological facilities. All interior areas of the train are connected, enabling passengers to move freely throughout.

Russia

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, begun in April 2007, takes passengers on a 6,000-mile (9,656 km) trip (the world's longest train journey)[4] across two continents and eight time zones. The Golden Eagle follows the Trans-Siberian Railway, which connects Moscow and European Russia with the Russian Far East, Mongolia, China and the Sea of Japan.

Canada

Rocky Mountaineer

Train rounding a curve next to a river
Between Banff, Alberta and an overnight stop in Kamloops

Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian company which operates trains touring the Canadian Rockies and the northwestern U.S. Via Rail sold off its Rockies by Daylight scenic train to Rocky Mountaineer Vacations (which became Rocky Mountaineer) in 1990. Rocky Mountaineer operates four routes.[12][13]

Royal Canadian Pacific

Train running next to a river
The Royal Canadian Pacific in North Dakota in 2012

The Royal Canadian Pacific is a luxury overnight passenger train based in Calgary. The train makes charter runs along Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) tracks in summer and fall, taking passengers into the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. A typical six-day, five-night round trip runs through the Columbia River valley and Crowsnest Pass. The train halts at night to enable passengers to enjoy all the scenery. It consists of up to ten CPR luxury passenger cars (built between 1916 and 1931), two fully restored 1950s locomotives[14] and a booster unit. The CPR also owns a modern diesel GP38-2 locomotive, numbered 3084,[15] for backup use.

Japan

Seven Stars in Kyushu[16] is a deluxe sleeping-car excursion train which has toured the island of Kyushu since October 2013. Its name derives from Kyushu's seven prefectures and the train's seven cars.[17] The train has a piano, bar, suites, a mini-kitchen, a crew room, shower rooms and toilets. It has two- and four-day round trips, departing from Hakata Station. The two-day tour visits Nagasaki, Aso and Yufuin, and the four-day tour visits Yufuin, Miyazaki, Miyakonojō, Hayato, Kagoshima-Chuo, Kagoshima, Aso and Bungo-Mori.

India

Luxury trains in India include the Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey and Golden Chariot. Two destinations have been added to Royal Rajasthan on Wheels: Khajuraho and Varanasi.[18] The 22-coach train can carry 82 passengers and has 13 compartments, two lounges, a spa and a fitness center.[19] The Maharajas' Express is owned and operated by Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).[20]

South Africa

The South African company Rovos Rail began the maiden journey of its Pride of Africa on 29 April 1989.[21] The company offers pan-African luxury-train journeys from 24 hours to a fortnight, private rail charters, a golf tour and an itinierary spanning seven African countries by rail, air and water.[21] Luxrail's Blue Train covers about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) between Pretoria and Cape Town.

Australia

The Ghan, a luxury train, runs 2,979 kilometres (1,851 miles) through the heart of the Australian continent from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south.[22] The Indian Pacific is a long-distance train connecting Sydney on the east coast, Australia's largest city, with Perth on the west coast.[23]

Image gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Railroad Collections Archived 2010-07-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Thinkquest Library Archived 2012-07-31 at the Wayback Machine., History of Luxury Trains[dead link]
  3. ^ "Orient-Express". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b Lambert, Anthony (28 March 2008). "On track for a classic train journey". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 31 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Readers' Travel Awards 2009". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  6. ^ Orient Express Collections
  7. ^ "Orient-Express". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Orient-Express". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Orient-Express". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  11. ^ Luxury Tourist Trains, Official Website of Luxury Tourist Trains Spain
  12. ^ "Rocky Mountaineer". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  13. ^ Marks, By Laurence. "Canada's Rocky Mountaineer train ride". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  14. ^ "A luxury rail tour with Royal Canadian Pacific brings the history of the railroad in Canada to life". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  15. ^ "CP 3084". Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu Japan's first cruise train, the luxurious "Seven Stars in Kyushu"". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Concept". Seven Stars in Kyushu. Japan: Kyushu Railway Company. 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  18. ^ AGENCIES (5 September 2010). "Super luxury train 'Royal Rajasthan on Wheels' flagged off from New Delhi – Economic Times". Economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  19. ^ "RRoW begins journey on Sunday". The Times of India. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  20. ^ Journeys by Rail. "India's Maharajas' Express rail journey". Telegraph. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  21. ^ a b Rovos Rail: Pride of Africa (Rovos Rail website)
  22. ^ "Earth Times: news/348189,paris-hilton-upset-at-japan-ban-special-way-traverse-australia.html". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  23. ^ Administrator, Default. "Sydney to Perth". www.greatsouthernrail.com.au. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
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