See America by private rail

By

Published March 02, 2012

| FoxNews.com

All aboard the very elite and lavish private train car.

That’s how advertising business owner Patrick Henry and his family travel America’s countryside.

“I grew up in a railroad family. We lived in about six different cities. My dad worked for the Santa Fe Railroad for 41 years, so I had a deep passion and love for trains,” said Henry.

In 2005, Henry went for his dream and bought two train cars together for $900,000.

“I kind of lost my head. I only wanted one, but when I saw these together I decided I wanted both of them.”

Henry’s two 1950s luxury cars are named after his parents Warren and Evelyn Henry.

FoxNews.com recently traveled with Henry and his family from Deming, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas.  

The trains are lavishly decorated with classic wood paneling and beautiful, custom furniture. Upstairs of the Warren Henry car is a large dome room where guests can sit and enjoy America’s beautiful landscape during breakfast and lunch. Downstairs is an elegant dining room. Passengers can enjoy the open bar in the sitting room with satellite television.  

The Evelyn Henry is the attached sleeper car.

“I just think it’s a great way to travel. It’s a great way to entertain clients and a great way to spend time with your family.”

Henry, who lives in Houston, Texas, spends up to 40 days a year aboard his train cars.  He’s covered over 25,000 miles in one year.

Amtrak, some commuter railroads and other transit agencies pull private train cars. Passengers get to choose where they want to go, but by hitching their car to a larger train means the private cars don't have their own schedules. Amtrak charges owners just over $2 a mile per car for services, and cars are inspected at stops every 500 miles.

“Amtrak earns revenue from the logistics involved and the actual hauling of these private cars,” said Marc Magliari of Amtrak’s media relations department in an e-mail to FoxNews.com.

At the whopping price tag of $8,500 a day, anyone can rent Henry’s two cars together. Some previous renters include Barry Manilow, NFL football stars, and actress Cathy Lee Crosby.

Prior to Henry’s ownership, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet once rented the cars together.

The cars have traveled to the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, and the NCAA Final Four.

The rental includes all meals and drinks. Renters can bring up to 10 guests with them. And no need to worry about fixing food and changing the sheets in the sleeper car --  because the rental comes with a personal chef and two stewards.

“I tell everyone it’s like a cruise on land. You’re (waited) on hand and foot,” said Mac Percival, brother-in-law to Patrick Henry. “It’s so relaxing to just sit up and watch the world pass by.”

While there is much fun to owning a private train car, Henry said the maintenance isn’t on the cars isn’t easy, or cheap.

“They always say the happiest moment of your life is when you buy a train car and the second happiest is when you sell the train car,” said Patrick Henry.

It’s difficult to find parts for train cars over 50 years old.

“It’s not like you can run to Home Depot because these cars were built in the mid-50s.”

For Henry, maintenance costs $40,000 a year. Train car owners are also responsible for storing their cars, likely on tracks at train stations.  

While there is much fun to owning a private train car, Henry said the maintenance on the car isn't cheap or easy. But he loves his cars.

Henry’s mother, Evelyn Henry, spent her 95th birthday on board during the family’s recent trip from Chicago to Houston via Los Angeles.

“There’s so much to see regardless of where we are traveling,” said Evelyn Henry.

The so-inclined to learn about owning a private train car can do so from the American Association for Private Rail Owners.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2012/03/02/seeing-america-on-private-rail/