A BOLTON woman who has just taken over as boss of one of the world’s most luxurious trains figured she was on the right lines when she turned up for a job interview with the company 18 years ago … and was greeted by a brass band playing.

Then a liveried steward handed Jeanette Snape, from Westhoughton, a glass of champagne at Manchester’s Victoria Station before she met her future boss on the Northern Belle, Britain’s equivalent of the iconic Orient Express.

“Wow,” she recalled. “I thought they must be ever so keen to sign me up! Of course it wasn’t really for me but for the 250 guests dressed up in all their finery who were about to board the train. But I immediately fell in love with the Northern Belle and knew I wanted to work for it.

“For this was no ordinary train, this was a palace on wheels – I had never seen anything like this: a vision of burgundy and cream loveliness, winged back armchairs, brass table lamps … and that was just the view from the outside.”

Jeanette, now 44, who went to St Joseph’s School in Horwich and then gained an economics degree at Manchester University, originally joined the firm as its northern accountant.

She was later promoted to financial controller, business manager and then general manager before becoming managing director this month.

Now she would love to arrange for the train, with its seven exquisitely-decorated 1930s Pullman coaches hauled by a vintage locomotive, to visit Bolton.

Jeanette said: “We have several special excursions from places like Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Chester planned this year – including four hauled by Flying Scotsman, which, of course, we are really excited about.

“That promises to be a wonderful journey – the world’s most famous steam engine pulling the country’s most luxurious train from Manchester and Crewe, recreating the golden days of travel, with delicious onboard food and impeccable service.

“We’ve also got a champagne-all-the-way top hat and tails trip to Ladies Day at Royal Ascot in June, with a three-course brunch on the outward journey from Manchester, tickets for the exclusive Queen Anne Enclosure at the racecourse and then a slap-up seven-course dinner on the way home.

“There will even be a jockey on board to chat to passengers on the way to Ascot and give them tips on what might be worth backing in the big races.

“Whatever the destination, the Northern Belle is old style travel the way it was meant to be – harking back to a time when getting somewhere could be as much fun, if not more, then actually arriving.”

Already Jeanette, who after 40 years living in the Bolton area has now moved to Cheshire to be nearer the Northern Belle’s headquarters at Nantwich, has ambitious plans to make the train even better.

They include introducing an on-board wine cellar and having all the stewards accredited by the British Butler Institute who will train them to the same high standards as the Royal Family’s Buckingham Palace staff.

“My remit as managing director is simple,” she said. “To give our guests a day to remember, memories to last a lifetime and to make people smile. That’s what the Northern Belle is all about.”

For more details about Northern Belle train journeys, see www.northernbelle.co.uk