Luxury trains

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Luxury trains are special trains designed specifically to offer an elegant train ride, and evoke a strong sense of association as in history, heritage and decadence of a leisurely ride. Luxury trains operate in several countries and offer a luxurious and comfortable traveling option to luxury travelers. Whereas some luxury trains like the Orient Express promote tourism in major destinations of an entire continent other trains take guests on a long leisure ride, cutting across state borders but limited to one specific country.

Nowadays there is an increase in the trend of luxury train travel around the world. Luxury train travel has several advantages over travel on airplanes. Whereas during air travel the monotony of the journey is occasionally broken by the view of clouds, hovering here and there, through the plane's window, a winding luxury ride on board the trains provides ample opportunity to the guests to witness the myriad colors of the places they are traveling to. There are a number of reasons for the growing popularity of the luxury trains over air travel, which includes ample space, restaurants and bars, spacious and comfortable sleeping and seating area and even wash/bath rooms. Since the time of introduction of Pioneer in 1864 by American industrialist George Mortimer Pullman,[1] luxury train travel has come a long way.

History[edit]

Chicago & Alton R.R. Lines

In the past, train travel was quite an uncomfortable experience. Without sleeping and dining cars, long distance traveling used to be a harrowing experience. Things changed when Pioneer was introduced by Pullman in 1864. In 1867, "Hotel Cars" were introduced.[2] Pioneer was the first railway carriage to introduce dining cars and sleeping cars[3] in train leading to more comfort during travelling especially a long distance journey. Pullman Car Company was founded in 1880[2] and was one of the leading luxury passenger railroad car providers.

Another person credited with the beginning of the luxury train travel was Georges Nagelmackers, founder of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Inspired by the Pullman trains during his America visit, Nagelmackers returned to Europe and built a fleet of over 30 luxury trains which offered luxury train travel across several destinations in Europe. He is credited with the beginning of the age of luxury trains and grand hotels.

Since the dawn of the age of luxury trains, the most famous and revered luxury train is perhaps the legendary Orient Express immortalized by Agatha Christie in her book “Murder on the Orient Express”. Orient Express happens to be the first luxury train in Europe. It embarked on its maiden journey on 5 June 1883 from Paris Gare de l'Est across Europe. Today the Orient Express not only provides luxury train travel across Europe but several destinations around the globe. Besides Orient Express a number of private operators as well as joint ventures between government parties and private tour operators are providing luxury train travel options in several countries.

Luxury train operators globally[edit]

Orient Express[edit]

Main article: Orient Express

Perhaps the single largest luxury train tour operators in the world,[4] Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (now Belmond Ltd. )boasts of operating most numbers of luxury train tour in the world. With services in Europe, Asia and South America, Orient Express is the only private luxury tour provider (With the exception of Grand Trans Siberian Express) to offer pan continental luxury travel services.

Venice Simplon Orient Express[edit]

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express, a private luxury train service which offers luxury train travels from London to Venice, is arguably one of the most popular luxury tourist trains in the world. It was also voted as the number 1 luxury train in the world.[5]

Royal Scotsman[edit]

The Royal Scotsman, operated by Belmond Ltd. offers an unhurried luxury train cruise with only 36 passengers across selected scenic landscapes of Scotland.

Hiram Bingham[edit]

This train charts the course of scenic Machhu Picchu, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.[6] The train used to be considered a luxury train until the company decided to create all inclusive offers due to low demand and thus allowing groups of youngsters to ride Hiram Bingham. Many old customers are disappointed when paying $300 per person, expecting luxury and getting the opposite. Due to this many people prefer traveling to Macchu Picchu and back to Cusco with other train companies instead.

It is an elegant train, old European express style, perfect in service, very selected food, excellent drinks, punctual in operations. Including a bar wagon and open view scenery wagon – for that you have to pay, of course.

Northern Belle[edit]

Class 67, no. 67006 "Royal Sovereign" hauling the Venice-Simplon Orient Express Northern Belle train.

Northern Belle is a luxury train owned by Venice-Simplon Orient Express, operating railtours and charters that complement the programme of the British Pullman train. Introduced in 2000, the train consists primarily of British Rail Mark 2 coaching stock, refurbished internally and painted externally to resemble the vintage Brighton Belle coaches of the British Pullman. The buffet cars are British Rail Mark 1 coaches. Unlike the British Pullman, the train primarily operates in the north of England and Scotland. The train also has two British Rail Mark 3 sleeper coaches for its crew.[7]

The train embarks from a number of Northern UK cities, including Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. Northern Belle comprises six dining cars named after historic British houses.[8]

Eastern and Oriental Express[edit]

A Bangkok-bound Eastern & Oriental Express train, seen in part stopping at the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia. The station was once an E&O Express stop before the opening of Kuala Lumpur Sentral in 2001.

The exclusive Eastern and Oriental Express, winding through some of the most exotic and spectacular locales from Bangkok to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur, offers an unforgettable ride through mystic landscapes. Covering over 2,000 km[9] of peninsular South East Asia, the two-day journey offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express has frequent stops at scenic locations. This luxury train has three classes of coach, elegant decor and come equipped with contemporary amenities, including 24-hour steward service, international electric sockets (220 volts) and 110 volt adapter for razors, a personal safe and hairdryer. All coaches are fully air-conditioned and come with en suite shower and washbasin.[10] Eastern and Oriental Express offer 4 distinct journeys which allow travelers to discover the mystique and enchantment of peninsular Asia.

British Pullman[edit]

Former Brighton Belle Pullman carriage at London Victoria, now part of the Venice Simplon Orient Express fleet.

British Pullman train takes its name from George Mortimer Pullman founder of the Pullman Car Company. One of the key attributes which sets the British Pullman train apart is that it consists of the vintage carriages from the legendary Brighton Belle Pullman trains. British Pullman train comes with a total of 11 carriages which bear testimony to the history and legend that is Orient Express. Quaint decor, exquisite artistic skills art deco marquetry along with consummate hospitality gives an unmatchable character to this luxury train. Each carriage of this train is a walking gallery of grandeur. Each name has its own history, its own motif and its own legend. British Pullman can carry 226 passengers. The guests on board the British Pullman train are offered gourmet dining options and each course is accompanied by rare wines and finest champagnes.[11] British Pullman train is arguably the best way to discover the British countryside.

Luxury train operators in South Africa[edit]

Rovos Rail[edit]

Rovos Rail Deluxe Suite

Established in 1989, Rovos Rail, a South African luxury train company began its maiden journey on 29 April 1989.[12] Rovos Rail offers pan African luxury train journeys spanning over 24 hours to a fortnight. Rovos Rail also offers private rail charters, golf tour and a special journey spanning over 7 African countries combining Rovos Rail, private plane and a 5 star luxury cruise.[12]

Rovos Rail is operated in South Africa and offer trips within South Africa and beyond its border. The company was formed in 1989 by Rohan Vos, from whose name “Rovos” was derived. Its headquarters is located in Capital Park station, near Pretoria (capital city of South Africa

Blue Train[edit]

Dining Car of the Blue Train

Winner of the prestigious 'Africa's Leading Luxury Train' award for two years in a row (2009–10),[13] Blue Train combines the best of a luxury 5-star hotel interiors and the irresistible allure of leisure train travel. Blue Train offers luxury rides across several destinations in South Africa. This train is also available for private charter.[14]

Luxury train operators in India[edit]

Palace on Wheels[edit]

The original luxury train by which the rulers of princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India traveled. After independence, these coaches were parked and remained in this state for a quarter century until in 1981–82, when the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Railways launched a special heritage tourist train for providing a unique memorable experience to the tourists visiting Rajasthan. The train was replaced by the air-conditioned broad gauge new train, which had 14 saloons, 2 restaurant cum kitchen cars, one bar cum lounge and 4 service cars. The cabins of each saloon are attached with bath and shower. The train also has a well-appointed lounge, library and bar.

The original narrow gauge train cars of the Palace on Wheels were later replaced by the modern replica engines to accommodate the technological advancement.

Deccan Odyssey[edit]

Started in 2004, Deccan Odyssey train is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Tourism Ministry of Maharashtra with on board services being provided by Taj Group of Hotels. Everything on the train reflects the lifestyles of Indian royalty. The air-conditioned train comprises 17 passenger coaches, out of which 12 are sleeping cars, 1 conference car, 2 dining cars, 1 bar car and one spa car.[15] Its unique itinerary includes Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Goa, Kolhapur, Sindhudurg Fort and more.[15]

Maharajas Express[edit]

The latest luxury train to be introduced in India, Maharajas Express, owned and operated[16] by Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been re-launched with new journeys in 2012. This luxury train was also voted World's Leading Luxury Train at the World Travel Award 2012.[17] Billed as one of the most luxurious train in the world and India's answer to the Orient Express, Maharajas Express train offers 5 signature journeys[18] to the guests across major tourist destinations in India. A ride on board the Maharajas Express is the costliest luxury ride in India.[19]

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels[edit]

This Indian luxury train commenced its service from December 2009. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels was launched on the queue of Palace on Wheels (RRoW), the most revered and popular luxury train in India.[20] Royal Rajasthan on Wheels takes the guests on a regal ride of destinations in Rajasthan. Recently two destinations, Khajuraho and Varanasi, were added to the itinerary of the train.[21] This train, composed of 22 coaches, can carry 82 passengers in a journey with one super deluxe saloon, thirteen deluxe saloons and two restro-lounges. With facilities like spa and fitness center on board, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is one of the most luxurious trains in the world.[22]

The Golden Chariot[edit]

The Golden Chariot, a luxury train in India, offers a whirlwind luxury tour across important tourist destinations in South India along with Goa. The Golden Chariot offers two distinct itineraries to guests: the Southern Splendor and Pride of the South.[23]

Luxury train operators in Canada[edit]

Rocky Mountaineer[edit]

En route between Banff, Alberta and an overnight stop at Kamloops

Featured on the BBC TV's list of "50 Things to do Before You Die"[24] Rocky Mountaineer takes the guest on a tour along the Rocky Mountains with its snow covered peaks, huge forests and glacier fed lakes in Canada. In 1990, Canada's national rail operator Via Rail sold off its Rockies by Daylight scenic train to a private company called Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, who renamed it the Rocky Mountaineer. The Rocky Mountaineer operates on four different[25] routes in the Canadian Rockies, through spectacular scenery with truly world class service on board.[26]

Royal Canadian Pacific[edit]

The Royal Canadian Pacific on an inaugural run

The Royal Canadian Pacific is a luxury excursion passenger train based out of Calgary, Alberta. The train makes scheduled runs along Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) trackage during summer months, taking passengers into the scenic Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia on a 6-day, 5-night round trip starting and ending at Calgary. The train stops every night so passengers will always get to enjoy the scenery while the train runs in daylight hours. The train consists of up to ten CPR luxury passenger cars built between 1916 and 1931, and two fully restored, 1950s built locomotives,[27] along with an added booster unit. The company also owns a special modern-day diesel GP38-2, numbered 3084,[28] as a backup.

Luxury train operators in Australia[edit]

The Ghan[edit]

The Ghan at Alice Springs, 12 March 2007.

The Ghan, a luxury train in Australia, connects 2,979 kilometres (1,851 miles) of breathtaking locales through the heart of the Australian continent from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south.[29]

Luxury train operators in Russia[edit]

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express[edit]

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, launched in April 2007, takes guests on a 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometres) journey, world's longest train journey,[30] across two continents and 8 time zones. The Golden Eagle train traverses the course of the famous Trans-Siberian Railroad which connects Moscow and European Russia with the Russian Far East provinces, Mongolia, China and the Sea of Japan.

See also[edit]

References[edit]