Private Rail Cars: America’s Trains Luxury Rail Travel

grand suite on the Sunflower train
The Grand Suite in the Sunflower will be similar to this photo, a private train car owned and operated by America’s Trains.

U.S. Luxury Train Travel is Here…with your own private train cars

By Jennifer Bellenoit
Updated July 2020

Private Train Journeys Start in February 2021!

Can you believe this bedroom is on a train? Private railroad cars make U.S. luxury train travel USA a reality.
Can you believe this bedroom is on a train? Private railroad cars make U.S. luxury train travel a reality.

Remember when trains were the most popular means of travel? Remember the romance of the exquisite finishing of a rail car seen in old black and white movies?

The slow chugging rhythms of the locomotive? The deep lull of the wheels running over the tracks?

Today, luxury train travel in the US appears to exist as a memory.  Unless you’re North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and own a private train, you can’t ride in your own train car.  Until now.

Meet America’s Trains.

Luxury Train Travel USA: Like the Olden Days

America’s Trains Inc is offering guests the same luxury travel and private rail cars that used to be reserved for only the wealthiest of Americans.

You can travel between many popular cities including Fort Worth Texas, New Orleans, and many more to come.

Barry Jones from America’s Trains stated that “present demand already ensures that full occupancy will probably occur, keeping in mind that the relatively long average lead time between when a Journey passenger makes a reservation and the departure date, is over eight months.”

The trips aren’t cheap, but they are a serious throwback to the grand old days of railroad travel. You’ll feel like a robber baron in your own private car!

The Sunflower, a double-decker private rail car with only four exquisite bedrooms, offers five to seven night rail Journeys.
The Sunflower, a double-decker private rail car with only four exquisite bedrooms offers five to seven-night rail Journeys.

Amtrak Train Sets

The train cars are part of Amtrak trains. They include “Train Sets” which are multiple cars traveling together that provide bedrooms, dining, lounge, and bar facilities. America’s Trains provide Private Cars that include two or three bedrooms, dining and lounge facilities that operate as part of the Train Sets or just alone.

More than Repainted

America’s Trains rail cars are not older units with new paint and furniture, by the way. They are fully rebuilt, redesigned, and refurbished to exceed Amtrak mechanical specifications and to meet the desires of discriminating luxury consumers.

“We are not trying to replicate antiquated capabilities that were in vogue when trail travel was at its peak. Instead, the best of these features are combined with modern conveniences and systems that make the cars the best in America and equal to the world’s finest,” Barry said.

America's Trains offer private railcars for a spectacular luxury rail journey. America's Trains photos.
America’s Trains offer private railcars for a spectacular luxury rail journey. America’s Trains photos.

Train’Share, as in Timeshare

America’s Trains offer two methods of travel which include Journeys by Rail (typical commercial train vacations) and Train’Shares (rail car timeshares). Travelers have the option to reserve trips on a timeshare basis which “makes up one of the fastest-growing segments of leisure travel,” according to Jones.

Guests have the option to take the journey by Rail vacations at a lower cost than most commercial luxury train vacations, while also having the option to exchange a Journey (train vacation) for a vacation at a wide selection of the world’s best resorts. You can even exchange them for a cruise.

Dining in style on a private rail car from Trainshares, luxury train travel USA.
Dining in style on a private rail car from America’s Trains.

Perpetual Term Option

According to America’s Trains website, buyers can purchase an “initial term” of 10 years and have the option to extend to 10 more years or have the option to extend to a “perpetual term” with “never-ending additional years.”

Some of the best benefits include special events and parties, pre- and post- land vacation opportunities, a selection of routes, an owner’s newsletter, and special predetermined preferences such as activities and drinks.

Choosing Your Own Routes

Those who have a Train’Share and use a Private Car have the opportunity to choose the destinations and routes.

You also become a member of the Train’Share Association which gives owners more benefits such as train, rail, and travel-related items at discounted prices, an owner’s newsletter, complimentary beverages of all kinds, and special predetermined preferences such as activities and menus.

Unlike traditional timeshares, Train’Share owners don’t have to pay fees if a scheduled journey by Rail is not used and America’s Trains will buy the Train’Share back without financial loss to the owner.

Visit their website for a more in-depth list of the benefits.

Private Rail Cars: America's Trains Luxury Rail Travel 1Train Car Options

America’s Trains’ first train sets will include about 13 rooms, all with full bathrooms and private showers. There are usually two people in a room, some with a third bed. The Train sets are kept small to accommodate passengers’ activities such as lectures, cooking classes, dancing, table games, and other small group activities.

According to Jones, a significant advantage to the small number on board is “the rapport and camaraderie that occurs when a small group of like-minded travelers gets together.”

Or, if you desire a completely private experience,  Private Cars includes two or three double rooms, a lounge, dining room, and kitchen. All three bedrooms have private bathrooms with showers. Private cars have separate crew quarters and travel with a porter or a steward or both. Up to six passengers can occupy the car. Private cars do not cater to children.

Relax in your own private living room on a private rail car.
Relax in your own private living room on a private rail car.

Dining on the Rails

Guests will be spoiled rotten by the fine dining. With an impeccable staff, ready to meet every personalized need, you will be served the finest and healthiest North American cuisine with fresh, local ingredients.

Guests even have the option to request special beverages before departure. The trains are usually open dining seating, or you can make a reservation. Lighter dining is available in lounge and bar areas.

Sleeping on board America’s Trains

Fully equipped with comfy pillows, fine linens, and hair dryers, the rooms also come with personal 24-hour on-call steward service. The beds are either king or extra-large queens with plenty of room.

The rooms are not your typical sleeper car. Due to the small group advantages, more detail is provided by the crew to ensure you the best possible comfort.

How Much Does it Cost?

Initial journeys will be seven-day trips across the U.S. from Texas to New Orleans featuring layovers in Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and New Orleans, quickly followed by more trips in the future, according to Barry Jones of America’s Trains.

Featuring layovers in Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and New Orleans

Per person, double occupancy per bedroom (except singles):

Grande Suite $7,087 – Master Suite $6,641 – Deluxe Double – $6,195
Classic double (upper and lower beds) – $5,750
Single passenger: 175% of double occupancy per person fare
3rd passenger: If available – $700

The Canyonlands is one of the sights to see out the window of your private train car
The Canyonlands is one of the sights to see out the window of your private train car

Early confirmed booking/reservation discounts:
210 or more days in advance 16% – 175 days 11% – 140 days 8% – 105 days 5%
rounded to the nearest $100

Journeys and Routes on America’s Trains

America's Trains' Dome cars have 2 Master Suites or 3 Deluxe Double bedrooms, a full kitchen, a dining area, and lounges that include an upper level which is about 30% the length of the car. When improvements are complete on the first dome car, the Hibiscus, it will operate alone until the next sleeping car is ready for service.
America’s Trains’ Dome cars have 2 Master Suites or 3 Deluxe Double bedrooms, a full kitchen, a dining area, and lounges that include an upper level which is about 30% the length of the car. When improvements are complete on the first dome car, the Hibiscus, it will operate alone until the next sleeping car is ready for service.

There will be nine active routes and 13 more are within a few years. One train vacation is often a week long. Similar to a cruise vacation, Journeys by Rail offer “ports of call” which allow guests to disembark and explore the museums of Washington D.C or enjoy the vastness of the Grand Canyon.

Ports of call vary from more than a full day down to about eight hours and are designed to ensure that passengers have enough time to fully enjoy each point of interest.

Most of the routes are one-way and guests are responsible for airfares to these ports. However, arrangements are made for connecting travel via Amtrak train where appropriate.

Some routes do return to the original port. The Canadian Falls route will depart from Washington D.C and makes stops in Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Buffalo before returning to Washington D.C as its final destination.

Future Train Trip Journeys in 2021

An example of a route is Journey  Southwestern Eastbound which departs from Los Angeles and ends in Chicago on Day 8. At 6:40 pm the train leaves and by Day 2 at 12:40 pm, you are staring into the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon. After an overnight in the Grand Canyon, the train departs for an overnight in Williams AZ at 4:30 pm.

Day 4 consists of an overnight exploring the southwest city of Albuquerque before departing for Kansas City on Day 5. During this day, the train will pass through the jagged, snow top hills of the Rockies and eventually make its way to the smooth, vast prairie lands of Kansas.

Guests will have the opportunity to view the wonders of the west from the comforts of the gentle moving train. This is why train travel is the best way to see America. After an overnight in Kansas City, the train will depart for its final destination: Chicago.

2021 Journey Fares

Fort Worth to New Orleans – 8 Days and 7 Nights, 2021 — 13 Feb, 27 Feb; 20 March.

Per person, double occupancy per bedroom (except singles):
Grande Suite $7,087 – Master Suite $6,641 – Deluxe Double – $6,195
Classic double (upper and lower beds) – $5,750

Single passenger: 175% of double occupancy per person fare
3rd passenger: If available – $700

Discounts apply to the prices above when booked significantly ahead of departure.

Although the costs may appear a bit pricey, the journey fares much lower than comparable luxury with comparable luxury train vacations. By selecting America’s Trains timeshare basis, the price of a Journey is about 1/3 of the normal commercial Journey fares.

See America’s Trains website for a comparison of prices.  The company prefers to have customers call and arrange the trips, as it’s very personalized.

Some things remain during a weak economy: dining, movies and especially now, travel. The small number of and low passenger density on each Journey by Rail vacations allows polite preclusion of passengers that may have a contagious illness and are the only way to fully experience America’s grandeur, history, diversity, and natural attractions, says Jones.
Train vacations interest in foreign luxury train vacations exceeds demand as more affluent consumers reaffirm significant interest in the unique experiences that they offer.”

Many Layovers
Although en-route destination layovers provide endless enjoyable off-car things to do, it is not the destination but the journey itself that makes a train vacation more than special.
Within several years the America’s Trains fleet of cars will grow to include about 29 standard passenger cars that travel as part of different train sets with from 1 up to 5 cars, plus several self-sufficient private cars with 2 or 3 bedrooms that can travel alone or with a train set, and a few activity cars that travel with trains sets to provide special entertainment and events.

Cars have common interior characteristics, but each has unique luxurious features. They are all named after flowers.

Some things remain during a weak economy: dining, movies, and especially now, travel. Train vacations have always stood firm as the best way to see America, says Jones. Train vacations have “strengthened among more affluent consumers and reaffirms significant interest in the type of vacations being offered.”

It is definitely not the destination but the journey itself that makes it worthwhile.

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