Craft company on track with delivery of carriage for Irish 'Orient Express'
A carriage for Ireland's answer to the Orient Express - the Belmond Grand Hibernian - was transported on flatbed truck from Antrim to Dublin yesterday as the August launch date for the train draws closer.
Sixty craftsmen at Antrim fit-out company Mivan - known for its work on luxury London penthouses and cruise ships - carried out the £2.5m worth of work to update former Irish Rail carriages into accommodation worthy of a £2,338 (€2,790) price-tag.
That is the cost per person of a two night trip into what Belmond calls 'the realm of giants' - from Dublin to Belfast for a visit to Titanic Belfast, and on to Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway.
Mivan described the 25-metre carriages as a "country house on wheels" with each one named after a county on the island of Ireland, with its own colour scheme and carpets.
Neil Ward, chief executive of Mivan, said: "We are delighted to have completed this prestigious project for Belmond, an iconic name in rail travel, and to demonstrate yet again the superb skills offered by Northern Ireland trade and craft workers.
"Mivan, like Belmond, is a strong performer on the global stage and has a work force which has grown to 150 since 2014. We aim to employ 200 skilled staff by the end of 2017 and to prove, through projects like this, that we can deliver superlative results."
The Belmond project is the culmination of a major comeback for Mivan. The company went into administration two years ago after suffering major losses on projects in Romania. But the company's assets and name were bought by MJM in Newry, led by Brian McConville. Tours on the Belmond Grand Hibernian in the Republic - which range from two to four and six-night packages - include Killarney, Blarney Castle and Cliffs of Moher.