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Amtrak adds Pullman cars for luxury service

The Baltimore Sun

In an attempt to increase ridership, two railroad companies are reaching back to the luxurious train journeys of the past.

Beginning this fall, travelers with an extra few days and money to spare will be able to climb aboard seven richly equipped vintage Pullman cars attached to Amtrak trains on three routes.

The promotion is a test of a partnership between Amtrak and GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, formerly known as the American Orient Express.

It is the first time the national passenger rail service will be an active participant in promoting luxury travel, said Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman.

During the test period from October until January 2008, the service will be provided on Amtrak's Silver Meteor, which travels from Washington to Miami through West Palm Beach, Fla.; the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago; and the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco, which stops in Grand Junction, Colo.

During the fall and winter seasons, traveling becomes a hassle as snowbirds migrate and families reunite for the holidays, but the traveler looking for a unique experience can bypass the headache, said Christina Messa, vice president of marketing for GrandLuxe.

The luxury cars will be attached to the back of each Amtrak train, which will continue to make regular stops. While conductors will walk between the two segments of the train, passengers will not, and each segment will be treated as its own separate train, Messa said.

The trips' prices will range from $789 to $2,000 per person for one- to two-night journeys.

Luxury sleeping cars equipped with hotel-like comfort, a lounge with a live pianist and a dining car that offers five-course meals are just some of the amenities of the seven-car train set. Each combined train can carry up to 47 GrandLuxe passengers.

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