Three months after GrandLuxe Rail Journeys shuttered its vintage train operation, a new company, Train’Shares, is launching a slightly different model for 2009.
Houston-based Train’Shares, formed one year ago, has restored several vintage cars that attach to Amtrak trains, while GrandLuxe operated its own trains and engines. Prior to the GrandLuxe collapse, Train’Shares had planned on attaching its cars on several GrandLuxe departures.
“They didn’t survive, not because of a bad idea,” said John Garland, Train’Shares marketing manager. “The problems they had would not have existed had this credit crisis not happened.”
Train’Shares rail vacations are seven-night trips that cost $5,500 per person on average, according to Garland. The high cost of the trip is due to annual and monthly fees charged by Amtrak, he added. Travel agent commissions will range from 12% to 22%.
Some journeys are roundtrip and others are one-way. Cabins sleep up to four and private cars accommodate up to seven passengers.
Once trains reach their destination, Train’Shares cars will be detached from the Amtrak train and moved to a non-operational track, where they will be parked. Guests will be able to sleep onboard parked cars.
The first group of four cars, the American Traveler train set, will launch in April. Two more products, American Explorer group and American Adventurer, will follow, said Train’Shares.
The American Traveler cars will be used for four itineraries: Washington-Toronto and back, Washington-Miami and back, Miami-Washington and Washington-Miami.
American Explorer will launch in May and operate a number of itineraries in the U.S. and Canada, including cross-country from Chicago to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver; up and down the West Coast between Los Angeles and Vancouver; and between Washington and Boston.
One of the cars in the American Explorer group is the Abraham Lincoln, a restored car originally built in 1910 by the Pullman Company under the direction of President Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln.
Another car, the Cedar Rapids, was built in 1948 and is part of the American Traveler set. The car has a dome top with sky windows for viewing.
The train cars feature lounges, dining areas and sleeping accommodations up to 100 square feet in area with full bathrooms and showers.
GrandLuxe Rail Journeys owned the GrandLuxe Express, a train with restored cars from the 1940s and 1950s. GrandLuxe operated four- to 10-day luxury, private excursions in the U.S. and Mexico, many through national parks. Its train cars are up for sale.