Pullman surprise for Ashford to London rail commuters

Pullman train at Ashford Station Image copyright PA
Image caption Passengers had expected to board their regular Southeastern service to London Victoria

Commuters were given a surprise upgrade when a luxury train arrived for their daily journey to work.

The Belmond British Pullman arrived at Ashford International at 07:00 GMT as passengers waited for a London train.

The train, dating back to the 1920s, is the sister of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

Travel firm Belmond put on the service to treat commuters on a 90-minute journey through Charing, Maidstone, Otford and Swanley to London Victoria.

Some of the passengers had registered for the journey after seeing a social media campaign, while others had a surprise upgrade.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Commuters Yvette James (left) and Nicky Calder boarded the vintage Belmond British Pullman

The train is usually reserved for leisure travellers on trips to major sporting fixtures or for special events, such as an afternoon tea hosted by Great British Bake Off's Mary Berry.

Gary Franklin, managing director at Belmond, said: "We wanted to sprinkle some magic on the rails and do something that reminded people just how wonderful train travel can be when you have the luxury of time."

Commuters on the service were treated to a three-course breakfast and musical entertainment.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Passengers were served a three-course breakfast and entertained by a vocal harmony group

Tamzin Crook, 41, said: "I turn up every day, stand in the same spot and wait for the same train.

"The standard experience is to fight for a seat and then put your head down and read.

"Here, it's like something out of an amazing film. It's opulent. It feels like we're going on holiday, not to work."

'Come on board'

Nathan Charlton, 25, and his fiancee Alicia Ray, 26, said they were running late for their train and saw the Pullman from the car park.

"We spoke to the staff and they said 'You're more than welcome to come on board'," Mr Charlton said.

"The only problem is that we'll want to do this every day."

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