Some people get excited when they hop aboard a blowing billy, a real choo choo train, and embark upon a journey by rail. Whether it be the grind and roll of those metallic wheels on a track, or the cultural association of train travel down through modern history, there is a frission in the air for these train buffs. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie comes quickly to mind and I also think of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina departing tear stained by train in Russia. The heaving metallic beast, smoke emerging from its chimney, contrasting the white snow of a Moscow winter; somehow makes train travel romantic.
What are some of the best rail trips on planet earth: marketing the rail road adventure? The Orient Express sadly ceased to operate in two thousand and nine; best to get the bad news out of the way early I thought. Product development in this niche tourism market has expanded rapidly and some of the offerings are incredible. The Bergen Line in Norway is so breath taking, passing glaciers, fjords and peaks from Oslo to Bergen, that the train employs five different breaking systems. Alternatively, the Bernina Express is the slowest scary train ride you will ever take, crossing over one hundred and ninety six bridges over chasms and plunging down mountains, and boring through fifty five tunnels, and climbs two thousand two hundred and fifty three metres over the Albula Pass to St Moritz.
In Australia, the Ghan, named after the Afghan camel trains which used to transports goods and messages between Adelaide and Darwin, travels one thousand eight hundred and fifty two miles through the middle of this vast continent. In South America, in Peru, the Cuzco to Manchu Picchu train journeys fifty miles through spectacular scenery through the Andes Mountains. In the US the Coast Starlight, a double decker train, goes from Seattle to Los Angeles, and it is a grand rail experience with fine dining amid breath taking views of this dramatic scenery.
In India, the Siliguri to Darjeeling steam train chugs its way with antique charm up to the hill station and offers amazing views of the Himalayas and teak forests and gardens. One, generally, does not think of parts of Britain being wild, but Glasgow to Maillaig in Scotland by train will change your mind. The Rannoch moor is so inhospitable that no road crosses it, and there are castle ruins, and mountains and Loch Lomond; dramatic vistas abound.