US's first night train hotel offers a comfortable trip to California - ForumDaily
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America's First Overnight Train Hotel Offers a Comfortable California Journey

The route from Los Angeles to San Francisco is one of the ten busiest air routes in the US this year. It's no secret that many travelers prefer a 90-minute flight to a six-hour drive through California's infamous traffic jams. What if there was another way? About the new train that will take you to your destination in comfort, said the publication Travel Off Path.

Photo: IStock

Reimagining an old Hollywood favorite

The luxury night train between Los Angeles and San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind reimagining of a vintage favorite.

During the 1940s and early 1950s, the Pullman overnight luxury express served as the preference of businessmen and movie stars. It had a legendary social club and was loved by famous Hollywood stars like Judy Garland.

By the end of the 1950s, many businessmen switched to first-class air travel, so The Lark was downsized and merged into a sleeping car before service was discontinued in 1968. Air travel remains the primary means of transportation between Los Angeles and San Francisco to this day.

While this innovative startup is resurrecting the glamorous tradition of luxury night trains along the California coast, the new Dreamstar is definitely not your grandma's night train.

What makes Dreamstar the best of its kind

Dreamstar offers the US's first luxury hotel on rails.

Dreamstar changes the typical balance of transport and hospitality on overnight trains. Founder Tom Eastman thinks it's a moving hotel, not a sleeping train.

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With a few exceptions, most night trains are focused on getting passengers from point A to point B, and hard, scratchy berths are a must.

Dreamstar turns train travel on its head: hospitality first, transportation second.

Dreamstar advisory board member and former Caltrain/SamTrans CEO Mike Scanlon recently commented on their concept: “You will have a moving hotel room for a narrow audience. It's practical, economical and a lot of fun."

Dreamstar Details

According to the proposed schedule, the train will depart around 22:00 and arrive at 09:00.

Eastman said the new Dreamstar will cost about $300 for a single room, $600 for a double room and $1000 for a premium room.

Technology upgrades include electronic ticketing and a centralized application where Dreamstar passengers can pre-order food, services and view information.

The first routes were originally planned for the summer of 2024. However, the Dreamstar website has now indicated that rides at this moving hotel may be available as early as this winter.

Alternative to Amtrak

Amtrak made a not-so-successful attempt to revive the California way in the 1980s with the Spirit of California, abandoning it after three short years of service. So what makes Dreamstar think their concept will work?

First, unlike Amtrak, this private company doesn't need to rely on Congress to bring about this railroad revolution.

Secondly, Dreamstar promises to be a reliable and enjoyable private alternative to the not always reliable public option.

Just earlier this year, Congress publicly denounced Amtrak for a 37-hour "train ride from hell" (Virginia to Florida), drawing attention to Amtrak's frequent lengthy delays.

Travelers are ready for healthy competition to improve industry standards for US railroads.

Ecological option

Night train travel is an alternative to short-haul flights.

Passengers, from celebrities to business travelers to everyday families, are now more aware than ever before of the climate costs of their travel.

Two-thirds of Americans want to see the carbon footprint of their flights before booking, and one-third are willing to pay extra to offset the carbon footprint of their flights.

If travelers are given a convenient way to truly reduce their carbon footprint, the evidence suggests that many will do so.

The main considerations that keep travelers from choosing greener options are price, time and convenience.

With an estimated price of $300 per passenger, the Dreamliner is actually a better deal.

While economy flights between LAX and SFO can cost as little as $45, first class tickets, which offer the same amenities as the Dreamliner, can cost anywhere from $318 to $1.

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Given that Dreamliner offers an overnight stay, travelers should add the average cost of a San Francisco hotel of $211 to their calculations.

Yes, the Dreamliner has more travel time than its airline counterpart. But when you factor in the time it takes travelers to get to the airport, check in, go through security, board, disembark, and check in luggage, a short flight is likely to save only three to four hours.

The convenience of central train stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco brings travelers straight to the city center on arrival, skipping airport taxis and long highway trips into the busy city.

All things considered, the Dreamliner luxury night train could be a more affordable, cost-effective and convenient way to enjoy Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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