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In Memoriam: Marina Linke

By Owen C. Hardy

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Marina Linke, Managing Director of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, who passed away suddenly on Monday, Jan. 4.

Society President Eleanor Hardy and I were shocked and saddened by the news.

Marina Linke with IRT traveler Melissa Wells during a trip on the Golden Eagle Danube Express. IRT Photo by Angela Walker
Marina Linke with IRT traveler Melissa Wells during a trip on the Golden Eagle Danube Express. Photo courtesy of Christopher Wells.

Having started The Society of International Railway Travelers (IRT) in 1983, we met Marina — and Golden Eagle Luxury Trains founding director Tim Littler — early in the history of both of our companies.

In many ways, IRT’s growth mirrored that of Golden Eagle’s. As a result, we have many memories of Marina from over the years.

Especially in the early days, she and I frequently traveled on trips across Siberia and elsewhere.  She was fun, with a wry wit. She had a brilliant, no-nonsense way of running a complex operation — she made running a private luxury train across Siberia look easy.  This longest rail journey in the world could be filled with challenges — but she dealt with them with aplomb.

I remember one trip in particular, on an eastbound Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express journey, when I was accompanying an IRT group from Vladivostok to Moscow. We’d stopped — I can’t recall exactly where (perhaps Irkutsk or Novosibirsk) — for one of Golden Eagle’s incredible off-train city tours.

The tour bus had pulled up to a gorgeous Russian Orthodox cathedral. As the bus approached the curb, someone called out: “Oh God! Not another bloody church!”

Everyone froze, not knowing where this was leading. The guy had been whining and complaining ever since we’d left Vladivostok.

Suddenly, Marina called out: “Yes, George. Another bloody church!”

The bus broke out in laughter, applause…and relief.

That was Marina. Tough as nails, but caring, compassionate and loads of fun as well.

As Angela Walker, IRT’s VP for operations, put it: “My trips with Marina always were worry-free. She was an excellent problem-solver, often dealing with issues before anyone was aware of them. Marina was smart, determined, kind, fun and funny.

“Her passing is a great loss to all who were lucky enough to know her,” Angela continued. “She touched many lives all over the world.”

We send our sincere condolences to the entire Golden Eagle team and Marina’s family. And we welcome our IRT guests to visit Golden Eagle’s website to post your memories of Marina.