Sunday, November 16, 2008

Train Travel: A Little of This, A Little of That

You have probably seen my earlier rants about how the US has fallen behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to train travel. In particular, the Europeans – specifically, the French, the Germans and the Spanish – have adopted high-speed trains as a way of life. Those trains are faster, cheaper and greener than going either by air or by car. The latest country to hop on the high-speed bandwagon is Poland. Gee … if the Poles get it, can we be far behind?

A new luxury train has begun operating in Europe. The Danube Express is offering a variety of exotic rail itineraries that will include cities such as Budapest, Prague, Vienna, and Krakow among others. Passengers will travel (and sleep and dine) in rail cars originally built in East Germany for use by the Hungarian State railroad, all restored at a cost of nearly $750,000 each. *sigh* Just one more train ride to be added to my must-do list.

And speaking of luxury train travel, starting next summer Canada’s VIA Rail will offer what they’re calling “Concierge Service” on their Train # 1, the Canadian. Amenities will feature at-your-beck-and-call room service, breakfast in bed, complimentary beverages, wine, toiletries and a gift basket. VIA’s news release says this new service will be available between Vancouver and Jasper, leaving open the question what happens during the Toronto-Jasper segment. I’ll try to find out and will report back.

A personal note: I’ve taken this train from Toronto to Vancouver three times now and they’ll really have to go some to improve the experience. Put it on your list.

No comments: