Good-news stories involving railway companies are as rare as... well, as trains running on time.

Commuters waiting to board the morning train from Ashford to London on Thursday were no doubt in dreary moods as they stood on the platform in Kent.

With winter weather now biting Britain, they could be forgiven for bemoaning the fact that they still had another two days of work, and another four lengthy rail trips, before they could get their weekends started.

But as the clock approached 7am, they got a rather astonishing – and utterly magnificent – surprise.Instead of the usual SouthEastern rolling stock, a Belmond British Pullman train turned up instead.

The beautiful old train, just under 100 years old, is the sister of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express – and from the images, seems equally luxurious.

Some of the cannier passengers knew what to expect – a social media campaign by the train company had advertised the stunt ahead of time.

But many turned up for the service to London Victoria entirely unaware of what to expect.

“I turn up every day, stand in the same spot and wait for the same train,” regular commuter Tamzin Crook told the BBC.

But instead of battling for a seat, Tamzin and her fellow passengers were treated to a three-course breakfast enjoyed to the accompaniment of live music.

“It’s like something out of an amazing film. It’s opulent. It feels like we’re going on holiday, not to work,” added Tamzin.