First look at Ireland's 'Grand Hibernian' carriages in refurbishment
Ireland's first luxury sleeper train
Published 22/12/2015 | 02:30
Refurbishment has begun on Belmond's Grand Hibernian, an 'Orient Express'-style train set to launch in 2016.
Ireland's first luxury sleeper train will provide two, four and six-night rail experiences in Ireland when it launches next August.
All-inclusive prices for the journeys will start from €3,200pp.
20 opulent, en-suite cabins, two dining cars and an observation car are currently being refurbished at specialist outfitters Mivan Marine Ltd. in Belfast.
Belmond, which operates some of the world's most famous trains - including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Belmond Royal Scotsman, is employing 40 multi-skilled craftsmen to undertake 35,000 hours of work at the Co. Antrim production facility.
Its seventh luxury train, built from 10 carriages acquired from Irish Rail, will accommodate 40 guests with an inaugural journey from Dublin on August 9.
"It is very important to Belmond that we work with local experts and craftsman to create a truly authentic train that reflects the spirit of the countries through which it will travel," said Gary Franklin, MD at Belmond Trains & Cruises.
Work started with the mechanical engineering and painting of the exterior's midnight blue and silver livery at Brodie's in Kilmarnock, Scotland.
The carriages were then transported back across the Irish Sea for the next stage in a project managed by Railway Specialist, Nigel Woolford of Assenta.
Interior designs, by James Park Associates, reflect Dublin's Georgian Architecture with inspiration taken from the flora and fauna of Irish landscape.
Furnishings are supplied by local businesses, from hand-crafted stone counters in the observation car to wool-blended carpets from Ulster.
For a preview of the interiors, see our galleries (above).
Customers of the lavish train are expected to be wealthy US, British and continental tourists, rather than domestic rail enthusiasts or Thomas the Tank Engine fans.
Irish Rail will be contracted to provide operational support, including haulage and stabling on the train.
Belmond will pay in full for all services, the company has said - with no State aid sought or given by the Irish government.