A new resurgence of the Golden Age is on the horizon as interest in private rail travel in a post-pandemic world is increasing. More than pure elegance, travelers can take extraordinary voyages all in the lap of luxury. The privacy and social distancing allowed within your private rail car could soon become the ultimate luxurious adventure.

Private luxurious rail cars have been around for over a century, when the Chicago-based Pullman Company, founded in 1867, first produced a selection of railroad cars, dining cars, and parlor cars. Pullman wanted to take care of his wealthy clients with accommodations to rival five-star hotels. The Pullman Company ultimately became popular with its private cars among the rich and famous.

By attaching the luxury cars to passenger trains, the design was over-the-top and pure decadence. An observation deck, a parlor, and plush staterooms with an elegant dining room and galley were all part of the features offered.

 

AMTRAK

Amtrak recently welcomed a new CEO, and owners of private rail cars are hopeful that the new management will ease some recent obstacles to increasing their hitching to Amtrak trains on regular routes. Owners pay Amtrak a rate of $3.74 per mile per car (plus additional fees for services.)

You can charter a train car at the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, where they promote luxurious travel experiences with private cars that regularly travel on Amtrak trains and others that create unique itineraries. They offer over 150 rail cars from domes and lounges to observation and sleeper cars.

LUXURY TRAIN CLUB

Simon Pielow is the co-founder of the UK based Luxury Train Club, and he tells me, “Private rail cars, particularly in the States and elsewhere in Europe and in Russia, were originally designed for the wealthy. Modern innovations can include single- button black-out windows when you’re going through a station for ultimate privacy.

You can have private carriages attached to the luxury trains like the Rovos Pride of Africa and the Royal Canadian Pacific, where you can also charter the whole train.  The Venice Simplon Orient Express boasts Grand Suites, three in a carriage; take them all for a private rail car with in-car dining for up to 6 guests.”

The following are The Luxury Train Club selections and descriptions for the ultimate private experiences.

Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

“The Belmond Andean Explorer operates along one of the world’s highest rail routes in the Peruvian Andes; some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world. Between Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, traversing the highest plains of the Andes, to the reflective beauty of Lake Titicaca; then continue towards the city center of Arequipa, while travelling through some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world.”

Rovos Pride of Africa, South Africa

“Rovos Rail has a style all its own with train tours that have a blend of earthy African safari and traditional luxury – except that a divine soak in a full-sized bath in a train was always rare, even on Royal trains!

The Pride of Africa trains from Rovos Rail provide very much more than mere rail transportation – from these transports of delight one can experience the richness of southern Africa, with north and southbound routes between Pretoria and Cape Town as well as a range of spectacular journeys to the east and to the west.The trains combine the golden age of rail travel with modern conveniences, creating an unforgettable extravagant elegance of a bygone era.

From the start of your journey (if you leave from Pretoria, you experience the fabulous Edwardian-styled station) to the memorable time spent on the opulent Rovos Pride of Africa, this is an experience not to be missed.”

Venice Simplon-Orient Express

“The Venice Simplon-Orient Express train is a work of art in itself – a true Art Deco icon that is famous the world over.Romance, glamour, adventure and the mystery of the past are all intimately bound up in journeys that visit some of the most alluring continental cites. Few trains still exist from a more gracious, elegant age of travel. This lovingly maintained train is a worthy inheritor of the legend that is ‘Orient Express’.

Air-conditioned vintage cabins, delicious afternoon teas and exquisite dining with lively on-board entertainment make a journey aboard this icon, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, one of the world’s finest travel experiences.”

Royal Canadian Pacific

“Queen Elizabeth II traveled in one of the Royal Canadian Pacific cars while still a princess, shortly after her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh. This train is as regal as they come, and the dedicated service provided by the professional staff is entirely appropriate.

Travel in 5-star luxury on board this historically-restored fleet of railway carriages through the heart of the magnificent Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia. The Royal Canadian Pacific stops on the tracks every night, sometimes in the wilderness, enabling the experience and enjoyment of the Rockies in their entirety.”

MORE LUXURY RAIL OPTIONS AROUND THE WORLD

El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo (Spain)

Al Andalus (Spain)

Danube Express (Hungary)

The Majestic Imperator (Austria)

Prestige Continental Express (Switzerland)

The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express (Russia)

Royal Scotsman (England)

Eastern & Oriental Express (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand)

The Chairman’s Carriage (Australia)

The Blue Train (South Africa)