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Just over a week ago, we gave you 11 benefits that train travel still has over the airline experience. Right on time, VIA Rail, Canada's national rail network, revealed the results of a $1 billion government investment in the form of a new "Prestige Class" on the Canadian, one of the network's flagship trains that runs between Toronto and Vancouver.
As the name would suggest, the highlights of the new Prestige Class provide passengers with a luxury experience, including personalized service, a cabin with 50% more space and bigger windows compared to the Sleeper Plus class, private bathroom with shower, flat-screen TV with on-demand, and a minibar. We're assuming that meals are also included in the rate (as they are for the Sleeper Plus Class), but those details have yet to come out. The first two photos in this post show the bedroom and sitting area of the new cabins, and you can take a virtual tour here.
Travel News / Security Checkpoints / Train Travel / Subway Travel / Beijing Travel / China Travel / → All Tags
Just as we were praising train travel for its ease of access and lack of frustrating security checkpoints, China has beefed up security to the point that it resembles a TSA checkpoint on its subway in Beijing.
Minor security measures date back to the 2008 Olympics, but things got serious at the beginning of 2014 when six checkpoints were opened across 200 stations that required passengers to show their personal belongings before entering the subway. Last weekend, three more were opened in response to the terror attacks in Xinjiang that killed 31 people. Now, instead of simply opening their bags, passengers must go through metal detectors and other heightened security measures, resulting in the massive queues you see in the photos of this post.
We love our air travel, for sure, but every time we go to Europe, we are pleasantly reminded of how enjoyable and relaxing it is to travel by train. The vast distances to be crossed and the cost/time restrictions may prevent us from doing it as often here in the States, but that shouldn’t keep us from overlooking what a great mode of transportation the train industry still provides.
Here's a rundown of what we love most about train travel:
Pet Travel / Amtrak / Train Travel / Travel News / Trains / Animals / → All Tags
Fido and Fluffy will no longer be sad back at home during your next trip, as Amtrak is now welcoming furry friends on certain trains and some routes. Just yesterday Amtrak started up this new program, so now you can plan your vacation itinerary with some tourist stops that your dog will enjoy as well—world’s largest fire hydrant?
The train transportation giant has a few special cars that will allow pets as part of a trial run that will do its thing for like six months or so. Amtrak's Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains that do their thing between spots in Illinois like Chicago and Quincy are part of the pilot, and if the animals behave things might just become available nationwide on more trains and more routes.
Zipping between countries over in Europe has never been easier, and thanks to planes, trains, and automobiles it’s also usually pretty darn affordable. Now the trip between France and the United Kingdom is getting even better, as those Eurostar trains that do their thing underneath the English Channel are getting a little bit of an upgrade and improvement.
It sounds like Eurostar is getting ready to throw down around $1.7 billion, as the train service begins to celebrate its second decade of doing its thing. New trains means more capacity for the first time in five years, and operators hope by that 2015 the whole fleet will have a new look and nice refresh.
Several spots in Central America have been on the "cool places to visit" list for a few years now, but Panama's popularity gains momentum with every headline event. Just this year, the country has had several new hotel openings (including an Ace!), it's the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, and now Panama has debuted a brand new subway system.
It’s not every day you get to catch a ride aboard public transportation free from graffiti and litter, and of course on a train that still retains that new subway smell. Panama City debuted their new trains and tracks earlier this month, and they’re the first country in Central America to have such a system.
Travel Tips / Lists / Travel 101 / Train Travel / Amtrak / → All Tags
Whether you're a frequent flyer or an armchair traveler, there are certain details it's nice to review before making plans for that next big trip. Every week, we'll squeeze our mindgrapes and share tips to make sure you're the best informed flyer in seat 1A...or 38K.
This Week: The 5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Taking a Train Trip
News has surfaced in the past few days that London is trying to open its old underground Post Office Railway, or Mail Rail, to tourists. The city still needs to raise quite a bit of money and pass public approval, but it hopes to knock the dust off this once vital mail-carrying route. If everything goes according to plan, the Mail Rail will be ready to roll by 2020.
That's a far way off, so there's no reason to get ahead of ourselves. Yet regardless of the eventual outcome, this contributor has enjoyed the historic glimpse into a previously unknown world. It may not look like much beyond a dirty, dusty subway system, but the circumstances surrounding its use and construction bring about an appreciation that goes well beyond the novelty of 1920s mechanical equipment.
After taking a year hiatus from participating in the Eurail Select Pass - which allows customers to purchase three, four, or five country rail passes - France has announced it will rejoin the program starting in April.
Currently and until March 31st, you can buy three, four, or five country passes, choosing from a list of 25+ countries so long as they are connected to each other. For those looking at the map, you can see the effects of the decision go beyond visiting France. This past year, Select Pass holders were out of luck when they wanted to travel from Spain/Portugal to Italy/Germany/Switzerland/Belgium. They had to buy single tickets or splurge on the Global Pass, which is at least double the price depending on the specifics of your travel dates.
Have you ever been on a high-speed train and, out of nowhere, felt the urge to dip your feet into a nice warm bath while you watch scenery wizz by the window? Most likely your answer is "no," but now you can do just that, thanks to Japan Rail's introduction of luxury foot-baths on their trains this July.
To start, the JR East services will sport the luxury foot-baths for the high season of summer travel. Passengers on the Tokyo to Shin-Aomori route and other cities northeast of the capital will be able to relax while soaking their feet in a traditional bath.
Monaco Travel / How to Get to / France Travel / Italy Travel / Train Travel / Helicopters / Trenitalia / SNCF / Delta / French Riviera Travel / Luxury Travel / → All Tags
The tiny Principality of Monaco just so happens to be both the world's densest country and its richest. Long a favorite of the cruise crowd and wannabe James Bonds, it's more than just Grace Kelly and gilded yachts; Monaco is one destination that deserves a prominent place on your bucket list and all week we'll be sharing why.
Despite the difficulty of locating Monaco on a map that lacks detail, traveling to the principality is remarkably easy from almost any major metropolis in Europe. There's no income or bling requirement to visit, and no special handshake to saunter up into its famous Casino. Monte-Carlo is actually fully connected to the rest of the world by air with a heliport, by rail with a lovely train station, and by its famous World Rally and Formula 1 roads.
Train Travel / Cell Phones / France Travel / United Kingdom Travel / Travel Tech / Trains / Eurostar / → All Tags
Now more than ever it’s hard to disconnect from things, and that’s certainly the case when you’re traveling about. Thanks to a little bit of connectivity ingenuity now you can even reach out and touch someone from under the English Channel, as mobile phone services are arriving for those zipping between the United Kingdom and France.
Those heading back and forth through the Channel tunnel will soon be able to give a ring to friends and family, as it sounds like 4G service will be arriving. It’s the north tunnel that’s getting the new cellular beams and bits, and this will be the first time you can continue to talk to your grandma as you travel from the island to the continent.