Appetite for luxury rail travel grows, and suppliers deliver

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Golden Eagle Luxury Trains introduced a trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland trip between Vladivostok and Moscow on cars hauled by a steam-powered engine.
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains introduced a trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland trip between Vladivostok and Moscow on cars hauled by a steam-powered engine.
Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Golden Eagle Luxury Trains this week unveiled a trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland trip between Vladivostok and Moscow on cars hauled entirely by steam.

The new Golden Eagle trip, its first steam-powered wintertime excursion, is a 22-day passage offering en-suite sleeper cabins with butlers and even an onboard doctor. It's just the latest product created to meet the growing demand for luxury train travel.

This year, for instance, both Tauck and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises have partnered with the company to offer packages in Europe that include a few nights on the Golden Eagle Danube Express, which travels through Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

And in North America, Steve Sammut, the president and CEO of Rocky Mountaineer, says the company has seen huge growth in demand in recent years for their train trips through Western Canada.

Founded 30 years ago by Peter Armstrong, Rocky Mountaineer started with 1950s-era, single-level rail cars that carried 7,000 passengers a year, Sammut said. Today, the company has 26 single and bilevel glass-domed cars that travel through Canada's scenic Rockies and carry more than 100,000 guests annually.

Unlike most other luxury rail lines, however, the Rocky Mountaineer trains don't have sleeper cars. Guests disembark at night to stay in different Canadian mountain towns. And the company offers a host of packages in partnership with Alaska cruise lines, adventure operators and destinations in Canada.

Golden Eagle's Winter Wonderland itinerary follows the classic trans-Siberian route that is normally used in the summer, weaving its way from east to west through the frozen wilderness and eight time zones. The train will travel more than 6,000 miles while being pulled by no less than 20 different locomotives, the company said. Prices start at $19, 495 per person. 

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