Hotel company launches Ireland's first luxury design-led sleeper train
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Hotel company launches Ireland's first luxury design-led sleeper train

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Hotel, train and river-cruise operator Belmond will launch “Ireland’s first luxury rail experience” on 30 August, with 10 sleeper carriages designed by James Park Associates to evoke Dublin’s Georgian architecture.

The Belmond Grand Hibernian – which can carry up to 40 passengers in 20 en-suite cabins - will transport guests on three-day journeys across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, stopping in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

Belmond purchased the 10 carriages and locomotive from Irish Rail earlier this year. The carriages were painted with a midnight blue and silver livery in Kilmarnock, Scotland, before being transported back across the Irish Sea for this next stage in development.

A team of 40 craftsmen from specialist outfitters Mivan Marine Ltd in Belfast have built the interior cabins, as well as two dining cars and an observation carriage. All interior furnishings are supplied by local businesses, including hand-crafted stone counters.

James Park’s design elements are inspired by Ireland’s ancient folklore and traditions, and the flora and fauna passengers will see in the passing landscape. Railway specialist Nigel Woolford from rail engineering firm Assenta has overseen the project.

“It’s very important to Belmond that we work with local experts and craftsmen to create a truly authentic train that reflects the spirit of the countries through which it will travel,” said Belmond MD Gary Franklin.

The launch of the Belmond Grand Hibernian will be followed next May by South America’s first luxury sleeper train – the 68-capacity Andean Explorer in Peru. The locomotive will travel through the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequip.

Interior designs of that train’s carriages, by Inge Moore of The Gallery HBA, will be inspired by the texture of Peru’s hand-woven fabrics and the soft tones of Alpaca wool.

Designers are increasingly looking to the railways for creative work. SANAA partner Kazuyo Sejima has envisioned a mirrored ‘’invisible’ high-speed train in Japan that will be a leisure destination in its own right, while earlier this year a locomotive pulling a panoramic glass-domed carriage housing a restaurant began transporting diners around the Netherlands.

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Hotel, train and river-cruise operator Belmond will launch “Ireland’s first luxury rail experience” on 30 August, with 10 sleeper carriages designed by James Park Associates to evoke Dublin’s Georgian architecture.
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