Our History

Russia's premier train, the Golden Eagle was launched in 2007 by UK based GW Travel (now Golden Eagle Luxury Trains Limited). The company was set up in 1989 just prior to the end of Communism across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

GW Travel was a pioneer in developing tourism in Russia away from the main centres of Moscow and St Petersburg and in the early years mainly using steam traction. The first Russian tour was in 1992 in the North Caucasus when the concept of a private train in Russia was a novelty, to say the least. Since then we have operated to all 15 countries of the former USSR and in previous years we have run over 250 tours by private train, covering nearly 2.4 million km (1.5 million miles) and carrying 20,000 guests, mainly in Russia but also in China, Africa, Western Europe, India and Canada. Following Silk Road tours from 1999 which broke new ground with our Russian train meeting a Chinese train on the Sino-Kazak border, the company operated its first private train tour wholly within China in March 2002.

Other Highlights Include:

  • In the 1990s we operated private steam hauled trains in all former Soviet Union Republics: Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • Tours by steam train over the entire distance from Hoek van Holland on Europe's western seaboard to Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, a distance of 11,970 km – or 7,440 miles.
  • The longest rail tour ever operated at 47 days, covering 25,630 km – or 15,926 miles, the 'BAM 2000 Steam Express' exploring the remote BAM railway and returning via the Trans-Siberian mainline and including five days on Sakhalin Island.
  • In 2001 we restored a P36, Russia's most modern express-steam locomotive design, and the largest steam locomotive in Europe which is featured on short sections on some of our departures, usually departing from or arriving into Moscow.
  • From 2002 - 2009 we ran the Jingpeng China Orient Express, the first private train over the Jitong Railway in Inner Mongolia, China, a brand new railway only opened in 1995, but with the distinction of being the world's last main line steam-operated railway.
  • In 2004 GW Travel placed its first order for the building of luxury cars for the Golden Eagle.
  • In 2004 we ran the Trans-Canadian Steam Express, the first Trans-Continental passenger train on the Canadian Pacific Railway for 40 years, and the first to be steam-hauled for 50 years.
  • In 2006 we operated our first train in India and in 2008 the first in Africa as part of a spectacular 34-day Cape to Cairo tour.

2002 saw one of the most exciting developments with the introduction of the first new deluxe class en-suite sleeping cars. Providing full en-suite facilities in each cabin for the first time in Russia, these cars were designed to offer five-star comfort and service which equals or surpasses the best luxury trains in the world today.

2003 was a double anniversary in St Petersburg (the city's Tercentenary, founded by Peter the Great in 1703; and also the centenary of the first train to leave St Petersburg for Vladivostok, which took place on the 14th of July, 1903) so 2003 was a very memorable and successful year.

2004 saw the company's operations expand into North America with its May charter of one of the world's most luxurious trains, the Royal Canadian Pacific on an epic 21-day trans- continental journey across Canada.

At the beginning of 2006 the company unveiled the Darjeeling Mail using the Deccan Odyssey, the first luxury train to traverse the Indian sub-continent between Bombay and Calcutta.

In 2006 we ran the first ever tourist rail journey to Lhasa in Tibet over the 1,142 km rail line between Golmud in China and the Tibetan capital which is the highest passenger line in the world at 5,072 m (16,640 ft).

The most important year for the company was 2007 which saw the launch of our brand new, 21 car, Golden Eagle. Costing $25m it was constructed in Moscow and the Ukraine. It is Russia's premier train and our flagship private train.

In an exciting move, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains took over the operation of the Danube Express for 2015 and beyond featuring a wide range of rail journeys through Central and Eastern Europe and into the Middle East.