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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

If this is a sentiment that resonates with you, then you were made for journeying by train.

From the spectacular scenery to the luxurious carriages and the increasingly extraordinary claim to an epic journey… it is impossible to beat the perspective you gain from a train carriage.

In a world that is increasingly speeding towards the future, the delight of a slow rail journey approaches an alternative universe.

Luckily, from the Andes to the world’s largest waterfall in Zambia, custodians of these experiences can be found across the globe.

“Slow travel by train is almost the only restful experience left to us.”

– Herbert


Bernina Express

The route

From Chur and St Moritz in Switzerland to Tirano in northern Italy

Time out

Four Hours and 90 mi (145 km)

Highlights

Incredibly scenic with 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, waterfalls, glaciers and ravines.

Also runs over the Bernina pass at 7,000 ft (2.1 km).


Tren a las Nubes

The route

Following the old tracks from Salta in Argentina to the Chilean border

Time out

A Seven-hour journey

Highlights

A 13,800 ft (4.2 km) climb (they carry oxygen on board) through multicolored rock and giant cactus fields.


Jacobite Train

The route

Running from Ben Nevis to Loch Nevis.

Time out

Two hours and ten minutes one way. 84 miles (135 km) return.

Highlights

Take in Britain’s highest mountain, shortest river, and Europe’s deepest seawater loch. See the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in the Harry Potter films. This journey is the only timetabled service on the national network.


Bergensbanen

The route

From Oslo to Bergen

Time out

310 mi (499 km) over seven hours.

Highlights

This high northern European rail route passes through desolate mountain terrain and it runs at 4,000 ft (1219 m) and 196 ft (60 m) above the tree line. You can also stop at Myrdal to take the Flam Railway which is Europe’s steepest conventional track train dropping 2,831 ft (863 m) into the fjord below.


Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The route

Between London and Venice

Time out

24 hours

Highlights

Twenties, art deco carriages and world-class service including the most exquisite cuisine and a piano bar. Think Agatha Christie novel…


The Rocky Mountaineer

The Route

Pick from one of four routes running through the Rockies over the old Canadian Pacific line to Vancouver

Time out

Between two and eight days traveling only during daylight

Highlights

Breathtaking scenery including wild waters of Fraser Canyon’s Hell’s Gate and steep tracks along the Thompson River. Spend the night in the lakeside city of Kamloops before the train crosses the stunning, snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Traditional native storytelling along the way. Glacier-fed lakes, forest and lots of wildlife. If you book a ‘Gold Leaf’ ticket, you can ride and dine in traditional-style Dome Cars. (Might stop for bears.)


Eastern & Oriental Express

The Route

Between Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station and Singapore through Malaysia.

Time Out

Two nights, three days

Highlights

Extensive modern en-suite facilities in a grand 19 coach sleeping car express. Drink a Singapore Sling on the verandah of the rear carriage.


The Palace on Wheels

The Route

Delhi return via Jaipur – Sawai Madhopur – Udaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Bharatpur – Agra.

Time Out

7 nights

Highlights

14 Carriages with modern private showers and a personal ‘Khidmatgar’ or butler. See India in the style of the Maharajahs.


The Trans-Siberian

The Route

Moscow to Vladivostok

Time Out

Seven day

Highlights

Take the public Rossiya No 2 to mingle with the locals and channel your inner Theroux or the Golden Eagle for Tsar-style luxury travel as you cross eight time zones.


Rovos Rail

The Route

Various routes throughout Africa

Time Out

Three to fifteen days, depending on destination.

Highlights

An experience that is straight out of a bygone era with excellent service and food with special excursions throughout all of their African routes.


The Ghan

The Route

A marathon across 1851 mi (2978) of Australia

Time Out

54 hours (including a 4 hour stop in Alice Springs)

Highlights

The Darwin tropics, the red desert of Alice Springs to the Southern Ocean in Adelaide. Spy camels, kangaroos and descendants of the Afghan caravanners responsible for building the line almost a century ago.


California Zephyr

The Route

The last exceptional 2,438 mi (3923 km) train journey across the US from Chicago via Omaha – Denver  – Salt Lake City to Oakland (San Francisco)

Time Out

A little more than two days.

Highlights

See more of America than most Americans from the plains of Nebraska, the majestic Rockies outside of Denver, the canyons of the Colorado River, the Utah desert and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada before arriving in the ‘City by the Bay’.


Glacier Express

The Route

From Zermatt, near the Matterhorn crossing the Rhone and into the Upper Rhone Valley to St Moritz

Time Out

One day (eight hours)

Highlights

Travel through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges past alpine meadows, mountain lakes, and hamlets. There is also the famous Landwasser Viaduct and the Oberalp Pass.


The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways or DHR

The Route

Fifty miles from Kolkata to Darjeeling

Time Out

2 hours over 8.6 mi (14 km)

Highlights

Climbing 6500 ft, it performs four zigzag loops to allow guests to acclimatize.


The Blue Train

The Route

Running between Pretoria and Cape Town since 1923

Time Out

27 hours

Highlights

South Africa’s scenery glides by as you are ensconced in wood-paneled berths. Fine wines and cigars are included in your fare and game drives are optional.


Reunification Express

The Route

From Hanoi to Saigon

Time Out

Two days

Highlights

Spy Vietnam from a modern air-conditioned sleeper (that you might share with a Vietnamese family).


Twilight Express

The Route

See Kyoto, Matsue, Izumo, and Miyajima

Time Out

Five routes vary from one night to three days.

Highlights

See the majestic Mount Daisen and enjoy views of the beautiful coastline along the Sea of Japan from outdoor viewing platforms.

 


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