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Caribbean luxury on two decks

01 Jun 2003

ST KITTS Scenic Railway has put into service five custom-built double-deck luxury coaches. Probably amongst the largest 762mm gauge vehicles ever built, the Island Series cars are 12m long, 2·4m wide and 5·3m high measured over the canvas canopies. Each coach weighs 22 tonnes, and has four-wheel fully-sprung bogies.

The carriages were designed by Colorado Railcar, and built by Hamilton Manufacturing Co. Each vehicle can accommodate 28 passengers, who are provided with seats on each deck.

The enclosed lower 'parlour' features cushioned wicker chairs, wall-to-wall carpets, hardwood detailing and inlaid tables, chilled drink facilities, air-conditioning and a toilet. The 1·8m wide tinted windows give views of the scenery. Individual recessed overhead lights can be dimmed for evening cocktail and dining services, and eight speakers are set into the ceiling for commentary and music.

The upper 'observation' level is reached via a spiral staircase in the vestibule, and offers low-backed seating, giving passengers an all-round view over the top of the sugar cane fields. One of the cars is equipped for disabled access.

Regular excursion services commenced on January 28, with morning and afternoon trains for cruise ship passengers. The railway offers them a 31/2 hour anti-clockwise tour of the island's circular line, which was originally built to carry sugar cane. To haul the trains, SKSR has acquired three Romanian-built Lyd2 0-6-0 diesel locos from a Polish sugar beet line, which have been rebuilt with 600hp engines.