World's Most Expensive Train ($20000 Per Person)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Once considered the preserve of scruffy backpackers, hardy adventurers, and vodka swigging businessmen, a new train on Russia's Trans-Siberian route aims to lure wealthy tourists with luxury.
British Prince Michael of Kent on Thursday at a Moscow station unveiled the Golden Eagle which offers passengers ensuite bathrooms, underfloor heating and plasma screen TVs in every cabin along the 9,300 kilometre (5,778 miles) Moscow to Vladivostok route, one of the longest train trips in the world.
"Russia and trains are two great passions of mine and I'm looking forward to travelling on the Golden Eagle," said Prince Michael, a Russian speaker and related through his grandmother to Tsar Nicholas II, in a speech.
The Trans-Siberian railway, built between 1891 and 1916, travels from Moscow through vast pine forests, over the Ural mountains and across the Siberian tundra to the Pacific Ocean.
A single ticket on the Golden Eagle will cost up to 9,595 pounds ($20000) for the 13- to 15-day journey.
A ticket on a normal Russian train costs around 10,000 roubles ($350) for the seven-day non-stop trip. The Golden Eagle, operated by firm GW Travel, will take double the time from Moscow to Vladivostock by stopping for excursions.
BEETROOT SOUP AND NO SHOWER
The Trans-Siberian rail traveller previously had to cope with random compartment companions, a restaurant menu that stretched from beetroot soup to dried fish and no shower.
Not problems the Golden Eagle traveller will have to worry about, GW Travel boss, Tim Littler, said.
"This is a luxury hotel on wheels," he said. "We are selling a luxury window on Russia."
GW Travel already operates high-end rail journeys in the former Soviet Union and other parts of the world. Most of its clients are from the United States and Europe and the average age is 66, Littler said.
Gregory Tepper, a tour operator from the United States, stood in the crowd listening to the speeches and looking at the gold and blue train.
"There is a real romance about the Trans-Siberian," he said. "But it is still a long time on a train."
On bridges and walkways above the platform, dozens of slightly bewildered commuters leant on rails watching the ceremony, listening to the brass band and admiring the train.
Most had not taken the Trans-Siberian and did not intend to.
"Why go by train when you can fly?" Igor Yevgenavich, 52, said. "Just think how much vodka you would drink in that time on the train? Much cheaper and safer to fly."