In many parts of the world, train travel appears poised for an upgrade in 2017 and beyond.
As luxury consumers rediscover the romance of earthbound travel, tour and transit companies are stepping up their game to offer nostalgic journeys infused with contemporary design and amenities.
Two luxury trains are coming to Japan in 2017: Twilight Express Mizukaze, which will feature art deco design and food by Michelin-starred chef Yoshihiro Murata, and Train Suite Shiki-Shima, whose most expensive room will have a bath made of Japanese cypress.
Twilight Express Mizukaze has not yet taken its inaugural journey but ticket sales are already brisk. Would-be voyagers must first apply for the chance to buy a ticket, and only one in 5.5 applicants is expected to be successful during the train’s first three months, according to train operator JR West. The train’s most luxurious suite, a carriage-sized room for two, sold for $6,524 per person for the train’s inaugural voyage.
In August, Ireland welcomed the Belmond Grand Hibernian, which passed through Dublin, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Westport, Belfast and Waterford on an inaugural grand tour. It offers Irish cuisine made with local ingredients, well-appointed cabins and communal areas, and other luxury amenities.
Also by Belmond, the Royal Scotsman train is expected to launch in April 2017, offering Europe’s first spa carriage. Sustainable wood from Scotland and the Cotswolds region in southern England were used to build the spa, and two treatment rooms offer views of the passing scenery.
The Eurostar train service between London and Paris, a symbol of UK-European unity, is reeling after last year’s Brexit vote, but investing in its future nonetheless. A new business lounge at the Gare du Nord intends to replicate the look and feel of a Parisian apartment. White marble fireplaces, a circular bar, and French and British cuisine by a Michelin starred chef create an atmosphere of comfortable indulgence.
And for the ultimate in discreet luxury, a new concept is coming to Japan in 2018: Express trains with mirrored exteriors that reflect their surroundings, allowing them to glide “invisibly” through the countryside.
For more travel and luxury trends for 2017, download The Future 100.