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Best Dining Trains

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by andykeithharris, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. andykeithharris

    andykeithharris New Member

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    I'm looking for a top class heritage Rail dining experience. I'm planning to try and do this next year (COVID allowing) as a replacement for the 40th Wedding anniversary celebration we had to cancel this year because of the lockdown. What are readers experiences of these and which would they recommend (or not).

    Thanks in anticipation
     
  2. talyllyn1

    talyllyn1 New Member

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    If running next year, the Shakespeare Express (Vintage Trains) takes some beating. Mainline steam haulage to Stratford upon Avon from Birmingham is just about the right journey length, with plenty of time in Stratford for "tourist shopping" with the "other half".
    We went on a few years ago and the breakfast on the outward journey and dinner on the way back were excellent. First class is worth the extra money.
     
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  3. ykin01

    ykin01 New Member

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    Have done the NYMR Dining twice - once for a Sunday lunch and one for an evening diner. Both times found it a very enjoyable experience with good food and a good ride.
     
  4. lil Bear

    lil Bear Well-Known Member

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    The Churnet Valley hired a new chef for the 2020 season, who totally revamped the menus. Whilst the season may have been disrupted, the reviews on Trust Pilot / Facebook / Trip Advisor have been very positive, to the point we are looking to enhance this part of the business for 2021.

    https://www.churnetvalleyrailway.co.uk/experiences-and-dining
     
  5. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    I guess it depends on how much you want to spend, how long you want on the train, do you want a destination or just a ride with a meal.
    Top of the pile for opulence (plus food and service from what my wife says) will be the Belmond Pullman operation. Their lunchtime steam hauled trip around the Surrey Hills from Victoria may fit the bill, but does not come cheap. They also have all day (destination) trips with both steam and diesel traction.
    A full day steam hauled trip with a regular tour company (such as Railway Touring Company) from London or Slough/Reading (as I see you are in Berkshire) may make joining easier. Which would give you full English Breakfast and a five course evening meal. Destinations and pick ups for these types of trips are numerous in normal times. These normally are in the region of £260 per head.
    Then you have offering for just a few hours on a Heritage Line and in normal times most of the bigger lines offer a full dining train of some sort often in the region of £50 per head.
    From personal experience of the main line day tours and my local line (Swanage) offerings both are very good.
     
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  6. Crawley Ben

    Crawley Ben New Member

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    Agreed, I had Sunday roast on the Shakespeare Express a few years back and the food was absolutely superb.

    The Bluebell Railway do a lovely fish and chip supper train too as well ;)

    Ben
     
  7. Penrhynfan

    Penrhynfan New Member

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    Their Pullman dining trains are excellent. Personally, I prefer the Bluebell's ones as with the Belmond Pullman you are probably going to be a long way from the steam loco up at the front. Yes, there's the higher Belmond speeds (and much higher price) as well.

    Be aware that, when booking the Bluebell's Pullman trains, you might want to specify not to be located in the non-Pullman Mk 1 coach, comfortable as it is.
     
  8. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Eaten very well at the Severn Valley on a few occasions on the Western dining set. Have to say it’s superb, food and service are excellent, if you fancy a lazy Sunday doing nothing and just watching the steam drift past the window and some lovely scenery you can’t beat it.
    One of my friends took his mum a few years ago, and she said she felt like she was royalty for the day.
     
  9. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    If I were wanting the celebration - 40 is a landmark anniversary after all, reading this thread would point me towards The Shakespeare Express.
    As you have to board and alight in Birmingham, presumably, a stop over in the Cotswolds might be a nice idea. The Cotswolds are one of the England's gems more so than the other areas mentioned, plus some are a fair distance away. Tiredness is not a good idea when celebrating something especial. ;)
    However - and of course it is the easiest thing in the world to spend other folk's money - is a trip to Paris on the Real Orient Express (Belmond) train, is another choice. :D
     
  10. burmister

    burmister Member

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    Have done both Belmond and Leading Heritage Railway Dining Trains. We would Give a very crude score Out of 10 as follows for a Luxury Days Pampered Experience

    Time on train compared to price
    Belmond 9. Heritage 5 (Time on Belmond was twice as long as Heritage but due to exprience below we would have continued longer if possible)

    Food and Wine
    Belmond 9 Heritage 6 (Belmond choice and offering better than Heritage even though that was Very good for the limited choices on offer.)

    Staff
    Belmond 9. Heritage 9 (Can not fault either organisations paid or volunteer staff)

    Coaches Ambience
    Belmond 9. Heritage 5. ( For us a 3rd class 4x4 Pullman cannot match a 1st class 2 x1 Pullman in any way shape or form)

    Boarding/Leaving
    Belmond 6 Heritage 8. (Preserved station even with peeling paint better than Victoria platform 1)

    Overall Belmond betters Heritage by some distance, but that’s our Own opinion and others will have different conclusions. Surroundings for us, ie the carriage itself are important To us for our day.

    For us both dining train offerings score highly but for that special day we would always go for the Belmond end of the product on offer, the old saying real quality costs money applies. Even if our discretionary spend becomes tighter, I would still go for Belmond for that special day over the Heritage product.
     
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  11. 60044

    60044 Member

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    It is very difficult to compare the various offerings but the preceding post (as I write!) seems to be an objective assessment. I would add - "research the offering carefully! Even a 2 + 2 third class Pullman is far superior to the Mk 1 SOs that are used to masquerade as 1st class diners in some instances, but then again, apart from Belmond, 1st class Pullmans are thin on the ground.

    Don't forget that by the time you are ready (and able) to take your trip the revived Brighton Belle might be a further possibility.
     
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  12. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    I'm not writing from experience here, but another option to look at (depending on size of party) might be the railways offering the hire of a directors saloon or similar. The Blubell's GNR saloon springs to mind (and the only one I have experienced - but that was when it was newly arrived on the Bluebell about 50 years ago, so I'm not going to give a review!). Perhaps other members can comment on such experiences?

    Steve B
     

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