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Eighteen railroad cars belonging to members of The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners arrive for their 40th annual convention in Burlington on Monday, September 18, 2017.
GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS

Time and money be damned.

The 18 private rail cars that heaved into the Burlington rail yard arrived an hour behind schedule. But, the 100 or so passengers, many of them owners, swore that it mattered not a whit — certainly not measured against the cramped airline seats, harrying deadlines and missed flights of 21st-century travel.

These travelers gradually disembarked from spacious, air-conditioned accommodations, many having recently topped off a chef-prepared lunch with flaky, chocolate cream pastries. 

They left behind corridors of dark, antique paneling, plush curtains, fresh-cut flowers, polished brass furnishings and private showers. 

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The passengers planned to return to their rolling stock, off and on during the day, between sessions of the 40th annual American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners convention at the waterfront Hilton.

Support staff would take care of laundry, refilling water tanks and pumping out each car’s septic system.

Airlines have stripped the pleasure from travel, said Borden Black, who with her husband, Nelson McGahee, owns the Dearing (built in 1925).

“Here, nobody’s asking you to take off your shoes; nobody’s frisking you,” Black said. “And you just don’t get this kind of scenery on a sea cruise.”

AAPRCO (pronounced “APP-rih-coh”), a trade association, does more than celebrate the bygone era of rail travel, Black added.

The group also helps coordinate charters and works closely with Amtrak to promote expanded service and safety standards throughout the national…