06 May 2011

Rail - Positioning moves in space and time

In the cruise industry the term "positioning move" is used for sailings that relocate a ship to a seasonally more desirable region.

Here on the Pacific coast late spring brings ships moving northbound from California to the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver, BC, to work the popular summer Alaska cruise season.  The reverse occurs in late summer as the Alaska cruise season winds down.  You can usually get real bargains on these uncrowded sailings.

Well, it just came to my attention that a similar thing occurs in the private railcar tour market, and this positioning move occurs both in the realm of space and time.  Let me explain.

My last blog post was my ruminations about Amtrak's 40th anniversary less than a week ago.  For better or for worse, 1 May 1971 meant the end of what most railfans consider the golden age of rail passenger service: the postwar years when the railroads operated gleaming streamliner trains with top-shelf service.

While many of the passenger cars from this era were long ago scrapped, some survived and passed into the loving and well-heeled hands of private individuals who lavished attention and money to restore them to their original beauty.

Besides being used for the special excursion trains to which I've alerted readers before, Amtrak allows these cars to be coupled to the end of their regularly scheduled passenger trains.  Trains & Travel International, a tour operator that exclusively deals in rail travel, then sells space on them.  (Amtrak has nothing to do with these movements other than hauling the cars.  They do not sell space on the private cars, and furthermore regular Amtrak passengers do not have access to the private cars.)

Here's where this is a positioning move not only in space but in time.  You will occupy an accommodation (roomette, bedroom, drawing room) from the Golden Age, but you will also enjoy service that draws its inspiration from that era, too.  Ticket prices include both lavish meals and  a complimentary open bar.

The prices are not that different for summer travel from what you would pay on Amtrak for a sleeping accommodation but with all due respect to Amtrak, the service will be far superior.

Yes, it will be a trip from one place to another, but more than that it will be a trip back in time.  Adding to the treat, is that several of these cars are ex-Western Pacific California Zephyr dome cars.

For information about dates and prices see Trains & Travel International's website page for "Private Rail Car Positioning Moves for 2011".

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