Chuck Jensen is one of the very few people who own their very own train cars. And not just any train car, but a 1923 Pullman sleeper, completely refurbished and equipped for high-end travel experiences. He rents the heavy car to travelers who want to enjoy a unique vintage experience, but he also uses it for family vacations, together with his wife and two sons.
Jensen especially enjoys looking out the large rear windows and admiring the lovely views, but this hobby of his costs him a lot of money every year. Owning your own rail car is “not for the faint of heart in terms of money”, said Jim Lilly, the president of the Washington chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, who also owns two old train cars.
Operating on Amtrak tracks nationwide, the car requires a lot of money to maintain and use. First, Jensen had to invest some $450,000 in refurbishing and now he has to pay $10,000 every year for storage, maintenance and insurance. Pulling the Pullman from its storage facility to the Amtrak trails costs $500 to $1800 and Amtrak charges $2.10 for every mile one of its trains pulls the private car. This means that a trip from New York to Washington or one from Washington to Chicago costs some $470 or $1,600 respectively in Amtrak fees. To this Jensen has to add paying the crew and the overnight parking fee of $100.
Oftentimes Chuck, Ginny and their two teenage sons ride as crew members, helping passengers with their luggage and serving them their meals. Even though he has to work hard and pay a lot of fees, Chuck Jensen is very happy with his business and pleased to have the opportunity to lay back and watch the sceneries from his own Pullman every time he wants to.