Luxury trains making a comeback

November 4, 2011 10:26:53 PM PDT
You've heard of private planes, but what about private trains? The world's most expensive privately owned fleet of train cars is valued at over $25 million. It's been used for Super Bowls, World Series, and the Kentucky Derby. We give you a closer look at this old mode of transportation made new again, and the Houston area train lover who's leading the way.

Patrick Henry grew up in Houston loving trains.

"My dad worked for the railroad for 41 years and I got to travel when I was a kid on private cars," Henry said.

Over the years his love grew into obsession, and now he owns two of the cars that make up what's become the most over-the-top, expensive private railroad car collection in the world.

"There are only probably 50 actual running private cars and then again we have 20 today," said Henry.

Some of the cars were built as early as 1918 and carried presidents dating back to Harry Truman. But here, history meets high-tech.

"We have satellite TV so we can watch the football games," Henry told us.

There's wifi and even a master bedroom with a king sized bed and luxurious amenities.

"You always want your nicest bedroom in the middle because it's the smoothest ride. You're not over the wheels," he said.

All 20 cars come with their own kitchen and personal chef.

"A range a stove a dishwasher... a full kitchen, but very small as you can see," the chef said.

And this one, the oldest car in the fleet, even has a working fireplace.

But few train cars in history have come with a view like this -- 360 degrees of countryside.

"Domes are very rare; there's probably only about 10 of these running anymore out in the United States. But we have a dome car upstairs where you are sitting now that you can sit 16 to 20 people," Henry said.

They're called "yachts on wheels" -- home away from home for the rich and famous.

But you don't have to own a car to experience one. Henry charters his two cars for a whopping $8,500 a day. Expensive, but not quite as steep if you factor it all in.

"They still come with a chef. They still come with a crew. But because it's just one car and it might be room for eight people or 10 people you can charter for $2,000 a day," said Henry.

Most clients are professional sports figures or big businesses who rent the cars for major events like the Super Bowl. But it's becoming more popular for family vacations.

"You have a lot of families that will do it because of the privacy," said Henry. "But I mean it's all over the board."

A chance to experience this old way of travel in a whole new way.

"It's almost euphoria it really is. All your problems go away," he said.

Amtrak engines pull the train, so they are able to go to any city where Amtrak provides service.


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