What’s the food like on long-distance rail journeys?
Pumpkin and Spinach Filo served with seasonal salad and Balsamic Dressing along with Caramel Mousse for dessert – I’ve never tasted railway food this good!
I’d boarded the Spirit of Queensland at Maryborough West the evening before bound for North Queensland and barely had time to settle when staff delivered Beef Medallion with roasted potato and veggies for dinner, directly to my seat.
On picking up the cutlery, I was transported back more than 40 years to when I used a small pocket knife to cut a fruit cake to share with my travelling friend Rose.
Rose and I were the only passengers on the old wooden freight train running between Barcaldine and Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
Both daughters of railway workers, we were looking for adventure and chose familiar transport. The fruit cake we brought with us was our only food.
Since then I’ve enjoyed many rail journeys, among them on Queensland’s Tilt Train, Spirit of the Outback, and Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway between Queenstown and Strahan.
However, before this month’s 17-hour trip from Maryborough to Tully, I’d never experienced long-distance rail travel in Business Class. I’ve always taken Economy seats or, on overnight journeys, bunked in Sleeper Cabins.
This time I was keen to try one of the new RailBeds I’d seen on Queensland Rail’s website. Basically, a RailBed is a large set by day that converts to a flatbed by night.
They’re placed three abreast, two on one side of the aisle and one on the other.
The RailBed Car had an airline feel to it with a trolley service for meals and a complimentary drink upon arrival. A Club Car was nearby to purchase other drinks and snacks.
I could watch movies on an individual screen and there was even a 24-Volt PowerPoint on my chair armrests to recharge my mobile phone.
Pressing an orange button above my seat alerted staff that I was ready for bed. They flipped the seat to convert it to a mattress and even made my bed.
A shower pack and towel was provided if I wanted to freshen up before turning in for the night. As with airlines, the Car’s lights were dimmed and curtains closed.
In the morning, I only had to press the orange button again and staff converted my bed back to a seat.
While the seat was quite firm and the footrest too far away for my short legs to reach, overall my first RailBed experience was comfortable, the service was awesome and the food absolutely terrific. All meals were included in the package price.
For anyone travelling from Brisbane to Cairns and/or return, if you can spare a day to sit back and relax, choosing a Spirit of Queensland RailBed is an excellent alternative to an air flight.