I received an email today about travel by private rail car from the nice people at The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. It was completely out of the blue but is precisely what I hoping to find. They have been offering private rail charters for a while but recently added a new service. At first, these were common styled trips that cost quite a bit per person but were all inclusive and totally worth the expense. The trouble with this kind of travel is convincing people to take the plunge and spend the money. What these folks are tying is low cost day trips for segments of their longer trips. For example, if a car was going from Los Angeles, CA to Portland, OR on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight you could book a bedroom for the entire trip of two days with one night. This is a great getaway that includes a private bedroom, all meals, liquor, and snacks. However, if you are finding such a cost not affordable, or unsure if it’s worth it, space has been made available on a lounge car for shorter day time segments. Instead of a multi-day commitment you can, for example, take a ride from Los Angeles, CA to Oakland, CA and have lunch and dinner on the train for a couple of hundred dollars per person.
I spoke with Tim Tennant, the President and CEO of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, that is sponsoring the excursion. He explained that they were trying to attract new guests that hadn’t tried this kind of travel before and were hesitant to make such a large purchase without some kind of first hand account. I personally think this is brilliant and is exactly what anyone should do if they have any doubts about private rail car travel. Tim said that the single most used word to describe these trips is, “Wow.”
On this excursion in particular, travel will be on the former Milwaukee Road business car Montana and the former Santa Fe coach Acoma (pronounced Ack-i-ma). Bedroom accommodations will be on the Montana and the day trippers will be on the Acoma. The cars are actually making a large circle around the country starting and ending in Los Angeles but are going through Portland, OR, Chicago IL, and back to Los Angeles.
There are lots of opportunities to ride and at the time of writing this there is still space available for the September trip for the day time segments. If you are interested all the details can be found here (The link is a PDF),
The proceeds of this excursion go to the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for the support of their museum and operations.