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London Travel / Train Travel / Olympics / Heathrow Express / LHR / Trains / → All Tags
Just in time for the Olympics, it looks like the Heathrow Express is scoring some swanky new trains. In case you aren’t familiar with the train service, the Heathrow Express connects travelers and tourists from London-Heathrow right over to Paddington Station close to the city’s center. It’s a little expensive at £18 each way, but, if you need to get from the airport into London proper in just 15 minutes it’s pretty much your best option.
The new trains cars are designed to look a little more like a rolling business class lounge rather than just a nonstop commuter train. In total, they’re spending around £16 million on upgrading interiors, seats, and everything else—both inside and out. The updates started rolling down the track earlier this month, and things will continue to be refreshed through the first part of next year.
Train Travel / Trains / Italo / Italy Travel / → All Tags
For a long time the only high speed train option in Italy was the state-run Trenitalia. Sure there are plenty of trains that can get you between Rome and Venice in like four hours or so, but there were often complaints about service and quality along with also this and that. A little competition might be just what the Italian train system needs, and that’s where Italo comes in to play.
Late last month the country’s new—and private—high speed train service finally hit the rails, and they’re planning to connect pretty much all the tourist and business hotspots throughout the country. Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori is the company behind the new trains, and if all goes according to plan you’ll be zipping through the countryside at around 190mph. Soon enough the trains will be connecting nine different cities at like twelve different stations.
If Atlantic City can have the direct ACES train from NYC to the east coast's gambling mecca, than why can't Las Vegas get itself a similar direct train service from LA? Well, the quick answers to that is to point out that flights between LA and LV are affordable and quick, and many more people in LA have cars to drive themselves, unlike the population of New York City.
Still, a couple companies (like DesertXPress) out there are looking to venture into the a Vegas direct train, and the flashiest idea comes from X Train. The X train will renovate railcars and use existing right-of-ways on the tracks to launch their service in 2011, with the goal of enveloping riders in Vegas before they even reach Vegas. Think railcars outfitted as bars, sports lounges, gaming rooms and private salons.
Airport News / ATL / Trains / Airports / Travel Contests / → All Tags
If you’ve ever flown through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport you have probably taken a ride on the underground train that ferries passengers from one concourse to another. Technically it’s not really a train, but according to the airport it’s an "Automated People Mover." Regardless of its official title, the thing is celebrating its 30th birthday with a little contest.
The airport isn’t totally thrilled over the train’s lack of identity, and they’re using the power of social networking to help it get one. They’re launching a Name The Train contest, and they’re asking everyone to help out. We’re assuming they prefer a nice and pretty name, so frequent flyers that have missed their flights due to the train should probably not share their choices. However, our experience with Atlanta's Automate People Mover has been pretty positive, even if it’s usually a little hot and a lot smelly.
One of the several luxurious Orient Express trains may have just closed up shop (track?) recently, but that doesn't mean that opulent trains are over and done for; in fact, quite the opposite if we're talking new regions. For instance, India has just welcomed the Maharajas' Express to the Kolkata-Delhi line, a "Palace on Wheels" complete with flat-screen TVs, DVD players, individual temperature controls and WiFi internet.
If you want to do it in grand style, you'll be paying $2,500 per person per day for the presidential suite, which is still nowhere near the size of a suite you'd get at a hotel, but then this one moves from Indian city to Indian city, taking in Gaya, Varanasi, the Bandhavgarh forests, Khajuraho, Agra and Gwalior. There are 20 Deluxe Cabins, 18 Junior Suites, 4 Suite Doubles and a Presidential Suite, a panorama car, two dining cars, a bar, and a gift shop to keep you busy and entertained when you don't care to simply look out the window.
We'll venture a guess that the bulk of the train's first passengers are British or Russian, so expect imperial glamor to reign with regard to the interiors of the train. No contemporary modern here.
· Maharajas' Express [Official Site]
· Like a maharaja chug from Kolkata to Delhi [Times of India]
· Orient Express Loses Steam; Finally Calls It Quits [Jaunted]
· Train Travel news [Jaunted]
[Photo: Maharajas' Express]
Train Travel / Trains / Travel News / Europe Travel / Eurostar / → All Tags
The demise of RailTeamwhich was supposed to integrate booking across Europe's many different rail linesmay have put trains behind in Europe's trains vs. airlines deathmatch. But now European governments are trying to bolster trains by going in a different direction. Instead of a pan-European plan to integrate rail lines under a single system, they've embraced deregulation.
RailTeam was originally conceived as a way of dealing with a very specific problem: since most countries are dominated internally by state-owned rail companies, getting across borders forces customers to deal with multiple companies. Now RailTeam's approachto integrate across those different companiesfailed. The push for deregulation deals with the same problem by letting individual rail companies expand their coverage more easily. In a few years, you might only need to book with a single company to get from Spain to Germany across France, eliminating the entire need to juggle different systems.
A few more technical details, plus some hopeful soundbites, after the jump.
VIA Rail Canada is hoping to convince budget-conscious luxury travelers to give up cruising on the oceans and instead head through the wilderness. The Montreal-based Canadian intercity train company is pushing tourists to embrace a four-night, three-day "land cruise" that will go coast-to-coast and provide meals and accommodations in between. The offer is making its way out through press releases and currently sits at the top of the official @viarailbuff Twitter feed. There are, however, a few minor glitches. Let's go to the blurb:
Though travelers can't expect casinos and nightclubs on board VIA Rail, many favorable comparisons can be drawn, including private sleeping accommodations, inclusive meal service and additional on-board amenities. Ready to "set rail"? VIA Rail's flagship service, the Canadian, which has been designated as one of the "World's Top 25 Trains" by the Society of International Railway Travelers... offers travelers one of the most comprehensive vacation options in Canada.
Amtrak / Trains / Train Travel / Acela / On-Track WiFi / Technology / → All Tags
Alright so how broke Amtrak is and how badly they need more passengers and cash is old and negative news. So how about some good news for train travel? Just a few days ago, it was announced that Amtrak is planning for WiFi on its Acela trains by 2010. This is what their passengers badly need, and hopefully the Northeast's few Acela routes are just the beginning.
2010 may be just around the corner, but frequent Amtrak passengers have been vainly attempting to connect to a network onboard for months now. For instance, when we chugga-chugged our way for fifteen hours (each way) between NY and the Midwest in March. Oh yes, we found an open network or two that moved with our train, but couldn't successfully connect. What's that about?
Crime / London Travel / Travel Crime / Trains / Train Travel / → All Tags
Back in middle school, one of our friends got a scanner for his computer—it was cool at the time, we promise. The logical thing was to immediately make fake hall passes, so we totally understand what Jonathan Moore was thinking when he did something similar. Instead of wandering the hallways, this IT expert made more than £12,000 in fake train tickets. His copies were pretty good since they allowed him to travel totally free for about two years.
He would have continued on his merry way except a ticket taker with a good eye finally ruined his free ride. One day in Brighton an inspector noticed a color variation in his ticket, and then another 11 fake tickets were discovered in the plastic wallet where he kept all his contraband. So instead of getting busted for just one ride, he pretty much got busted for every ride he ever took. It didn’t help that the local police found over 70 designs for forged tickets on his computer.
Amtrak / Trains / Train Travel / Vancouver Travel / Seattle Travel / Portland Travel / Olympics Travel / → All Tags
Amtrak's Northwest Corridor, already busy in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics, just got a little bit busier. As of August 19th, the train company has added a second daily train to the Seattle-Vancouver portion of their Cascades route, a network of rails that bind Portland to Vancouver and back. The new train means that travelers now have direct daily round-trip service starting all the way at the bottom of the route and all the way till the end.
Amtrak Cascades connects Portland to Seattle with four daily round-trips, and then travelers are routed to their final destinations accordingly. They're celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, with the expanded Seattle-Vancouver route being a part of that. For the rest of the celebrations, which include promotions and events, there's even a dedicated 10th anniversary page.
On the whole, Japan is a dream for travelers; it's full of polite people who go out of their way to help tourists. But that can all come to an abrupt stop when you get on a train in Tokyo (or, to be fair, probably any big city). That's when the gropers appear, and we don't mean the fish.
Authorities are warning travelersespecially femalesto watch out for subway passengers who feel the need to grope them. They say they're particularly concerned at the moment because many of the recently-nabbed gropers say they have been inspired by websites on groping. One recent offender said in his defense: "He had viewed a website that detailed how and when to grope people and wanted to confirm if the hints worked..." And he'd even traveled 60 miles out of his way to ride a train line the website listed as being "easy" for groping.
Urban blog Infrastructurist just published a heartbreaking post bemoaning 11 gorgeous American train stations that have been demolished. One that's thankfully been spared: downtown Los Angeles's Union Station, routinely referred to as "The Last of the Great Railway Stations."
Opening in 1939 and costing $11 million, the station quickly became a central destination for the West Coast's passenger trains. It was not uncommon during the 1930s and 40s for 7,000 passengers a day to crowd into the station, which still provides the hub for Greater LA's many rail services. Even if you're not a passenger it's an architectural treasure worth incorporating into your Los Angeles tour.