Private Car Charter to Pass Through Cleveland

A charter train of privately owned passenger cars will pass through Cleveland on Sept. 18-19 en route to a convention in Maine of private car owners.

The Pine Tree Limited, will depart Chicago Union Station on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 18, and spend the night in Cleveland at an undisclosed location.

The train will depart the next morning for its next stopover point in Binghamton, N.Y.

The train was chartered by the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners and will be operated by Amtrak in cooperation with Norfolk Southern.

The train was originally scheduled to travel between Chicago and Cleveland via the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, but that has been changed to the Amtrak route via Toledo over the NS Chicago Line.

AAPRCO trains are known for taking routes that offer passengers “rare mileage” over freight-only rail lines.

The train will eventually reach Portland, Maine, on Sept. 21. Many of the cars will return to Chicago on Sept. 25-26, traveling in part on the route of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

The APPRCO convention will be held Sept. 21-25.

All passengers riding the special train must be members of AAPRCO or the guest of an AAPRCO member. Passengers and guests do not have to register for the convention to ride all of a portion of the trip.

Some owners of the cars that will make up the Pine Tree Limited are selling space to the public. Some of these cars will originate at distant points and travel to Chicago via Amtrak.

For example, car Vista Canyon was to depart Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 11 on the Sunset Limited en route to Los Angeles where it would connect with the Southwest Chief for the trip to Chicago. It will return on Amtrak via New Orleans.

The fare to ride the Vista Canyon for its entire journey is $8,750, based on double occupancy.

The Los Angeles Railroad Club will offer three cars on the AAPRCO special. The fare aboard the Pacific Sands and Tioga Pass is $6,750 per person and space in both cars is already sold out.

The club will offer a third car, Salisbury Beach, at a fare of $5,350 per person. In early September, this car still had a few rooms available.

Closer to home, the Cincinnati Railway Company will operate three cars that were to originate in Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 14, traveling to Chicago via Amtrak’s Cardinal.

The Oliver Hazard Perry is being sold as a unit, not by individual rooms as is typically the case with private cars on special trains. The price for the car is $38,500.

The Cincinnati group also plans to take the Birch Grove and The Observatory to Maine.

Rooms in the Birch Grove were listed at $22,000 for a quad suite of two rooms en suite, $12,000 for a double bedroom and $6,000 for a roomette.

The Observatory was priced at $12,750 for a master bedroom and $12,500 for a double bedroom.

Two things are obvious in this cursory review. Its helps to be wealthy if you want to ride this train and you need to have a lot of free time.

Yet a friend of mine who is an avid rare mileage collector – and who will not be riding the Pine Tree Limited – once told me that some ordinary middle class individuals scrimp and save their money during the year to purchase a room aboard a private car for one of the APPRCO specials.

Aside from some rare mileage, those who ride these specials enjoy an experience that you just can’t get on Amtrak, even in the most pricey sleeper accommodations.

Many of these private cars carry their own chefs and have very attractive interiors. Most of the cars were built in the streamliner era. We’re not talking Amfleet or Superliner equipment.

For the rest of us, it is an opportunity to see an unusual train as well as to ponder what it must be like to ride like a railroad tycoon.

Article by Craig Sanders

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