Luxury Train Travel - An overview of this niche travel segment

In a world of cramped and unpleasant planes, trains actually may be the last respite of luxury. Sensing this demand, luxury travel companies like Orient-Express have invested in restoring the world's most famous train routes. And travelers are responding by packing new trains.

Much of the new boom in luxury trains has come in Asia , which has a generation of newly wealthy tourists eager to see their own countries. Vietnam has upgraded the train system running the length of the country. India's rail system long has knitted the nation together, but in recent years it has moved beyond its utilitarian purpose. The upscale Taj hotel group, for one, has helped roll out the Deccan Odyssey, which rumbles from Mumbai to Goa and Pune. The Deccan's interiors resemble maharajas' palaces, with overstuffed sofas and rich wood walls, and stewards onboard monitor their guests' every need. A similar luxury train, the Palace on Wheels, runs from Delhi through the tourist triangle of Jaipur and Agra, and the Indian government is considering another luxury route across the entire country.

Maharajas Express is the latest and most opulent 23-car luxury train, which was inspired by the lavish personal carriages of India’s colonial-era princes. Dubbed as Asia's most luxurious train, Maharajas Express is equipped of two ornate restaurants with decorative vaulted ceilings, an observation lounge and 43 cabins that start at roughly 110 square feet. Offering once in a lifetime rail tour with unique experiences, Maharajas Express is truly "a journey like no other".

The train, which caters to luxury travelers seeking to explore the vast country with style and ease, arrives at a new station every morning for off-rail excursions. The eight-day Mumbai to Delhi Princely India tour chugs through western India with sightseeing tours in Vadodara, UdaipurJodhpur, Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park and Agra.

Passengers aboard the seven-day Delhi-to-Delhi Classical India tour crisscrosses dozens of sites in Northern Indian region which includes Gwalior, Khajuraho, Bandhavgarh National Park, Varanasi and Lucknow. All 4 itineraries begin or end with a visit to the Taj Mahal.

European and African nations also have recognized the demand for luxury rail trips. Competing with South Africa's long-running Blue Train between Cape Town and Pretoria, a formal experience where men don jackets for dinner in the train restaurant, the South African businessman Rohan Vos began Rovos Rail. Using restored carriages from as far back as 1911, Rovos Rail offers itineraries across southern Africa. Even small, isolated Eritrea has revamped its narrow-gauge railway, dating from the Italian colonial era, so it can run charters. It ascends through impossibly steep passes rising from Asmara, the capital.

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