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Russian - British project, Golden Eagle to go on maiden trip

Golden Eagle, the Trans-Siberian de luxe express, will depart on its inaugural 14-day trip from Moscow to the Far East across Siberia Monday, the press service of the Russian Railways said.

The first private tourist train in Russia is a joint Russian-British project, which cost $25 million and took seven years. The train will run from Moscow to Vladivostok, with several stops on the way and excursions. Six Gold Class cars consist of five spacious two-berth cabins with air conditioning, a shower cabin, heated floors and furniture. This class of cabins also has an LCD TV screen, a DVD-player, and Internet access. Silver Class cabins are identical but smaller. Apart from a hairdressing salon and medical room, the train also includes a bar and two restaurant cars, which offers Russian and Siberian menu ranging from so-called pelmeni, or Russian dumplings, to black caviar and vodka. A trip on this comfortable train is reflected in the price - a Gold Class ticket is about $19,000 and Silver Class $16,000. But despite the price, all tickets are sold out until November, with the customers being mostly Europeans, said Sergei Slutskov, spokesman for Russian Railways. „From winter, we will start actively promoting this trip to Russian tourists as well,” said Slutskov.

Apart from the main Moscow-Vladivostok route, the train will be used for other tours, including along the Silk Road, an ancient trade route, going via Kazakhstan with stopovers at the Baikonur space center, the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and across Asia's largest and coldest Gobi desert in China with Beijing as the final destination. Prince Michael of Kent, one of the authors of the project with strong ties to Russia, said at a reception at the British Embassy in Moscow that it was a dream for any Brit to drive a train, and added that two of his dreams, Russia and trains, had been united in the Golden Eagle project.

Vladimir Yakunin, head of the Russian Railways company, said this first private train project in Russia was a crucial event for the entire transportation industry. „We hope there will be more trains like Golden Eagle and therefore more opportunities in the elite travel industry in Russia,” Yakunin said at the presentation ceremony. (