I had long wondered why Ireland, unlike neighboring Scotland, did not have a luxury train from which to view its glorious scenery. I was therefore extremely interested to learn that Belmond (formerly Orient-Express) was planning to launch just such a train in August 2016, to join the ranks of the Royal Scotsman and the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Belmond had to start from scratch by purchasing 10 carriages and a locomotive from Irish Rail. These were shipped to Scotland to be re-engineered and painted in their distinctive livery of midnight blue. The next stop was Antrim, in Northern Ireland, where 40 craftsmen spent 35,000 hours transforming the interiors. As configured, the Grand Hibernian now has five sleeper cars, each with four cabins, for a total of 40 passengers; two dining cars; and an observation car.