CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Next summer, travelers will have a chance to hop aboard a luxury train at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and travel in style to The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs.
Roundtrip fares on "The Greenbrier Presidential Express" will be about $650, and the trip will take five to six hours. The 15-car train will operate 11 months a year, departing Washington on Wednesdays and returning on Sundays, beginning in July 2012.
"We're in the process of building what will be the world's finest train," said Ross Rowland, whose company is refurbishing the train at a former Bethlehem Steel Co. factory in Pottstown, Pa. "The Greenbrier will become the only resort in the world with its own private train."
Rowland, resort owner Jim Justice and interior designer Carleton Varney spoke during a press conference at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington Wednesday.
Rowland, president and CEO of Greenbrier Express Co., initially pitched the idea of a luxury train to The Greenbrier's former owner, railroad giant CSX, in 1995. Company executives balked at the plan, but Justice embraced the rail service proposal after buying the resort out of bankruptcy two years ago.
Justice purchased the rail cars from their former owner, Philip Anschutz, a billionaire entrepreneur who had planned to run luxury train service to several national parks. Anschutz eventually abandoned the project.
Justice said Wednesday that he hopes the $15 million luxury train will "put energy" back in the resort and help boost occupancy rates, while also giving guests an opportunity to "step back in time."
"The whole concept of the train is to slow things down," Justice said. "It brings out the child in all of us. We all need a break."
The train -- powered by two diesel electric C39-8 locomotives -- will shuttle up to 240 passengers.