Private train charters now offered by Grand Canyon Railway
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Something special and truly unique just rolled onto the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona — a private train comprised of three ultra-luxurious 1940s and 1950s railcars.
The train set, consisting of a rear open-aired observation car (The Kansas); a parlor/café and lounge car (The Utah); and a coveted vista dome/sleeper car (The California) will be available for charters for the first time ever from Williams to the Grand Canyon beginning Nov. 1. Additionally, two other historic rail cars will be made available for charters: The Santa Fe, a luxury parlor/lounge/café car and the Max Biegert, also a luxury parlor car with an open air rear platform.
Neighborhood associations, groups of families and friends, civic organizations, wedding parties and corporate events can run their own train on
what amounts to their very own railroad, something almost impossible on non-tourist railroads in the U.S. The five cars can accommodate up to 200 guests and include bedrooms and galleys (kitchens).
Grand Canyon Railway is not a tourist railroad or heritage museum — it’s an everyday (except Christmas) working passenger railroad that runs 65 miles from Williams to the South Rim of Grand Canyon.
In addition to the iconic open-air platform rear observation car, and “Mad Men-era” dome car, there is also a sleeping car complete with Pullman-style sleeping berths. Charters even have a choice of engines — a traditional diesel engine or a steam engine.
Given the Railway owns and runs the entire railroad, everything is flexible. For example, it’s possible to have just one car (and engine) for a charter, or two cars, or all five. Of course, this includes an engineer, brakeman, conductor and passenger service attendant. It’s possible to add stops along the way (on sidings) for a chuck wagon dinner, bar service, live entertainment, custom food service, a personal chef, or even a sleepover in the private sleeping cars.
Unlike suburban commuter passenger cars or trains, these fully restored historic train cars feature fine fabrics, hand-crafted teak and fine wood interiors, china and real silverware, TVs and satellite radio.
About the cars
The Utah, built in 1948 for the Rock Island Railroad, is a parlor/café lounge car that can entertain 26 guests and has an onboard kitchen and built-in bar.
The Kansas is a rear observation platform car that can accommodate 18 day guests or six overnight guests with two master bedrooms and a third smaller bedroom, along with a dining room that seats eight, and a full kitchen. It was built in style in 1950 for the Denver, Rio Grande & Western Railroad. It’s a legend. For many years it brought up the rear of the famous Colorado Ski Train.
The California was built in 1954 during the golden age of cross-country railroading by the Northern Pacific and is a dome-sleeper car that can accommodate 44 day guests or 16 overnight guests. It boasts eight double bedrooms with a toilet and sink, two showers, and sofa seating in the second floor “skylight dome” for 24 passengers.
The Santa Fe was built in 1948. Considered the lap of luxury, this stainless steel 56 seat coach provides patrons with extremely comfortable space and open seating. The car is prized on Grand Canyon Railway and very popular with guests. It is 77 feet long, and now carries 37 passengers.
The Max Biegert is just back on the rails after a major refurbishment. The luxury parlor car is named after the businessman responsible for reinstating train service from Williams to the Grand Canyon in 1989. It was built in 1954. The car is 77 feet long and carries 23 passengers. It is also one of our two parlor cars to feature an open air rear platform.
Private Polar Express
And then there is Santa and The Polar Express. The Grand Canyon Railway is famous for its Polar Express to the North Pole. With the new private cars, it’s possible to visit Santa, the elves and North Pole in style in your own private rail car. Entire neighborhoods, families and friends, or civic groups can charter a train to the North Pole from November 2019 through January 2020 with chefs, cookies, cocoa and a private tour of the North Pole and private visit with Santa. It’s even possible to curate the ultimate North Pole sleepover and wake up in Williams – and reality – in your PJs.
While there are a variety of options when it comes to chartering a train (time, number of passenger cars, food, is it a sleepover, etc.) prices for a full charter with 200 people can cost less than $160 per person.
Charters take time. Every charter is customized to its guests.
More information is available or to book charters call (928) 635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters.
Grand Canyon Railway is one of the last passenger railroads in the U.S. that still rosters working, glistening steam engines which always brings romance and excitement to the rails. And yes, if you charter the train you can pull the whistle. Everyone wants to pull the whistle.
Information provided by Grand Canyon Railway