Amazing Rail Journeys
Since I’ve launched my new venture as an Independent Travel Agent, it seemed to make sense for me to take over the reins of Golden Times’ regular travel feature too, so here I am! I thought I’d look at something a little unusual for my first piece – Train Travel. To many people, a train is just a means of getting from A to B and the thought of a train journey conjures up thoughts of delays and overcrowding. There’s a lot more to railways than commuting, however, and here I’d like to look at some of the stunning experiences travellers can enjoy on two rails!
Train travel represents a slower paced way to get from A to B that offers the chance to take in the local surroundings in a way not possible when flying. The world’s great railway journeys can offer everything from a magnificent day trip to enhance your holiday to an entire, land-bound cruise taking in multiple countries.
Though there are fascinating railways on almost every continent on Earth the UK is home to many unforgettable railway journeys. Everything from Devon’s scenic, coast-hugging line from Dawlish to Exeter, to the Snowdon mountain railway that climbs to the very top of Wales’ highest mountain, and possibly the most famous, (pictured top right) the West Highland Railway. This 84-mile trip has been made famous by its appearance in the Harry Potter films and takes in an impressive range of scenery from Britain’s highest mountain to its deepest freshwater loch. Of course, travelling by train is about more than just the journey, the trains themselves can be evocative and iconic. The Orient Express, the Flying Scotsman, and the magnificent steam trains of our very own Kent & East Sussex Railway!
For those wishing to travel further afield, there are many delights in mainland Europe. The Bernina Express (Bottom picture on the opposite page) operates between Switzerland and Northern Italy.
Taking four hours and covering 90 miles this route takes passengers through 55 tunnels, over 196 bridges and climbs more than 2,200 metres above sea-level. Along the way, you’ll be able to marvel at the breathtaking alpine landscape in one of the panoramic sightseeing cars. The route is active year round and offers an entirely different experience in summer compared to winter. Another European railway gem is the Rhine Valley Railway in Germany. This route follows the curves to the Rhine as it wends its way from Koblenz to Mainz. The route takes just 50 minutes but passengers are treated to views of the vineyard-laden slopes of the valleys it passes through with glimpses of fairy-tale castles and riverside spa towns. There are few tunnels to interrupt the view before you reach Koblenz, where the Moselle River meets the Rhine.
More adventurous travellers might want to roam even further for a railway fix. Considered an Australian national treasure and one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, “The Ghan” runs between Adelaide and Darwin right through the searing heat of central Australia. This adventure takes you to places most tourists never see. You can view the ever-changing landscape from the comfort and solitude of your private cabin. When the train stops along the way, the adventure begins as you spend time exploring, either on foot or on the back of a camel, the wonders of Australia.
If you’re not a fan of the heat, what about The Rocky Mountaineer in Canada? Operating 4 different routes with carriages designed to optimise sightseeing, the Rocky Mountaineer offers the chance to take in some of Western Canada’s most breathtaking scenery. Passengers are able to relax, enjoying comfort and luxury, whilst mountain ranges, forests, lakes, rivers roll by. It’s always best to keep a camera handy as you never know when a moose or bear might emerge.
If you’re more interested in thrills than sightseeing, how about travelling to Shanghai to ride the fastest train in the world? Known as a “Maglev” train (Magnetic levitation) this train actually floats above the tracks using the power of magnetism! Reaching an eyewatering top speed of 267mph, this train journey is over in under 8 minutes!
I hope I’ve provided you with a little bit of inspiration and maybe piqued your interest to try something different. Whether you’re interested in a railway trip, a summer holiday, a cruise or a city break, why not give me a call and see if I can get you a great deal ?
You can see my ad on page 21 which has all of my contact details in.
See you next time – Debby.