Derry can make a killing on Irish ‘Orient Express’

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A boss at a luxury travel firm that operates the Irish equivalent of the ‘Orient Express’ says the £27 million refurbishment of the old Waterside Railway station will allow it bring trainloads of very rich people to Derry.

Gary Franklin, Vice President of Belmond, whose ‘Grand Hibernian’ touring train is currently unable to visit the city due to a lack of stabling, believes this shortciming will be remedied under the renovation plans.

“We operate some of the most exclusive train excursions in the world and look forward to being able to extend our adventure to the city and wider North West region,” he said.

“We are very excited at the opportunities that this proposed Multi-Modal Transport Hub could bring. The city, and its surrounding area are exceptionally scenic and there is great potential for us to expand our operations here.

“We look forward to continuing to play our role in boosting local tourism and are exploring options to exhibit one of the Grand Hibernian’s passenger cabins in the city. If the plans are approved, Belmond would look to formalise ongoing discussions with Translink and contribute to the huge potential this project has for the city and adjacent region,” he added.

The extension of Belmond’s heritage-railway operation would represent a significant boost for the city’s tourism offering and attract carriage loads of deep pocketed leisure travellers to the North West.

Journeys on the Grand Hibernian are currently retailing between 2,000 and 10,000 euros.

A spokesperson for Visit Derry said: “This is one of the leading international train tour operators and the potential inclusion of the NW in their travel itineraries of Ireland will attract new visitors to the historic Walled City.”