A LUXURY sleeper train set to roll into Ireland in the summer of 2016 could be the first of many, according to one of the managing directors of its operating company.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian will be the first overnight luxury rail experience of its kind in Ireland and will be operated by Belmond - the same company that owned and ran the famous Orient Express train. The firm recently bought 10 carriages from Irish Rail that will be converted into 20 ensuite cabins for as many as 40 guests
Prices will start at around €3,200 for a two-night trip, going up to €5,900 for a four- night journey. While the route has not been finalised, the train will run along the coast and through several cities north and south of the border.
And Belmond's managing director of trains and cruises Gary Franklin, who came up with the idea of the train, says that it could be the first of several Belmond ventures in Ireland.
"We have often found that where we take one of our trains, other opportunities tend to develop. I do think that other opportunities could develop in Ireland.
"If it got to a point where we were selling out the train every week, we would definitely move very quickly," he said.
He also said he would hope to see it emulate the success of the company's Scottish trains which get roughly 1,500 customers a year, adding that this number would be the eventual aim for the Irish train.
The experience is intended to function as a type of 'land cruise', with the train stopping at several destinations around the country and allowing guests to either take part in organised activities or go explore by themselves.
The train's haulage services and Dublin depot will be provided by Irish Rail. The train is projected to run from March or April to October and will employ 50 staff.
A Belmond spokeswoman said it would have about 50 departures a season, but added: "As the train won't begin operations until halfway through 2016, we won't operate a full season that year."
Sunday Indo Business