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Top 10 Train Journeys

The Sunlander, Australia

The Sunlander is a three times a week long distance passenger rail service running between Brisbane and Cairns, Queensland, Australia a total distance of 1,691 kilometres. The service is a locomotive hauled train at present with plans to introduce a new Tilt Train on The Sunlander service in the future. The route follows the North Coast railway line from Brisbane in the sub tropical region of south east Queensland through to the tropical north region. The train travels the coastal strip between the beaches and the Great Dividing Range passing diverse country including the Glasshouse Mountains, the sugar cane country of North Queensland and the tropics beyond Townsville.

Bernina Express, Switzerland

The Bernina Express is an express train connecting Chur (or Davos) in Switzerland with Poschiavo and Tirano in Italy, by crossing the Swiss Alps from north to south. For most of its journey, the train also passes along and through the World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes. The train is operated by the Rhaetian Railway company. It is not an “express” in the sense of being a high-speed train, but, rather, in the sense that it provides a one-seat ride for a long duration trip. The Bernina Express itself is composed of panoramic coaches with a piped multi-lingual commentary, and a small supplement and seat reservation are both obligatory. The train is popular with tourists, and connects in Tirano with the Post Bus service via Lake Como in Italy to Lugano in Switzerland. The Albula line and the Bernina line on the Bernina Express route were jointly declared a World Heritage Site in 2008. The trip on the Bernina Express through this World Heritage Site is a 4 hour railway journey across 196 bridges, through 55 tunnels and across the Bernina Pass on the highest point at 2,253 metres in altitude.

Flåm Line, Norway

The Flåm Line (Norwegian: Flåmsbana) is a 20.2-kilometer (12.6 mi) long railway line between Myrdaland Flåm in Aurland, Norway. A branch line of the Bergen Line, it runs through the valley of Flåmsdalenand connects the mainline with Sognefjord. The line’s elevation difference is 863 meters (2,831 ft); it has ten stations, twenty tunnels and one bridge. The maximum gradient is 5.5 percent (1:18), making it the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe. Because of its steep gradient and picturesque nature, the Flåm Line is now almost exclusively a tourist service and has become the third-most visited tourist attraction in Norway. Construction of the line started in 1924, with the line opening in 1940. It allowed the district of Sognaccess to Bergen and Oslo via the Bergen Line. Electric traction was taken into use in 1944; at first El 9 locomotives were used, and from 1982 El 11. Until 1991, the train connected with a ferry service from Flåm to Gudvangen. In 1992, freight services were terminated, and due to low ticket prices and high operating costs, the line was nearly closed.


Bergen Line, Norway

The Bergen Line (Norwegian: Bergensbanen), also called the Bergen Railway, is a 371-kilometer (231 mi) long standard gauge railway line between Bergen and Hønefoss, Norway. The name is often applied for the entire route from Bergen via Drammen to Oslo, where the passenger trains go, a distance of 496 kilometres (308 mi). It is the highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe,crossing the Hardangervidda plateau at 1,237 metres (4,058 ft) above sea level. The railway opened from Bergen to Voss in 1883 as the narrow gauge Voss Line. In 1909 the route was continued over the mountain to Oslo and the whole route converted to standard gauge, and the Voss Line became part of the Bergen Line. The line is single track, and was electrified in 1954-64. The Bergen Line is owned and maintained by the Norwegian National Rail Administration, and served with passenger trains by Norwegian State Railways (NSB) and freight trains by CargoNet. TheFlåm Line remains as the only branch line, after the closure of the Hardanger Line. The western section from Bergen to Voss is also served by the Bergen Commuter Rail, and was shortened following the 1966 opening of the Ulriken Tunnel.

Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world. There are branch lines to China through Mongolia and Manchuria, with service continuing to North Korea. A number of privately chartered services are operated, and one tour operator even commissioned the construction of their own train, jointly owned by themselves and Russian railways. The train, officially named Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express was launched on 26 April 2007 by Prince Michael of Kent. Current rates (02.10. – 29.12.2012) are EUR 161.- for the complete itinerary from Moscow to Vladivostok in a couchette coach and EUR 336.- in a sleeping car. A 2-persons-sleeping compartment is only available on train 001 / 002 ‘Rossiya’ at EUR 955.-, however. There is a Rail Pass for all Russian trains introduced 2012 as well, valid 30 days 1st and 2nd class.Travel to Peking / China from Moscow: taking the trains to Zabaikalsk or Blagoveschtschensk, passing the border and getting a Chinese ticket at the counter in Manzhouli or Heihe respectively cost in couchette coaches via Zabaikalsk EUR 226.-, via Blagoveschtschensk EUR 240.- (September 2012). The direct trains 004 via Mongolia and 020 via Zabaikalsk cost from Moscow about triple and do not have couchette coaches but only sleeping cars.

Venice-Simplon Orient Express

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, or VSOE, is a private luxury train service from London to Venice that is popularly referred to as the Orient Express. The original company was founded by James Sherwood of Kentucky, USA, in 1982; five years earlier, in 1977, he had bought two of the original carriages at an auction when the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits withdrew from the Orient Express service, passing the service on to the national railways of France, Germany, and Austria. On 25 May 1982, the first London-Venice run was made. The VSOE has separate carriages for use in the UK and for continental Europe, but all of the same vintage (mostly dating from the 1920s and 1930s). Passengers are conveyed across the English Channel by coach on the Eurotunnel shuttle through the Channel Tunnel. Whereas restored Pullman carriages are used in the UK, in continental Europe restored dark blue former Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits carriages are used. Note that the service in the UK is called the British Pullman, and it has a brown and cream livery and is a day-only train that serves elaborate teas and brunches and visits such sites as castles and spa towns. The service in Europe is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and has sleeping carriages for full overnight, luxury service. Both the VSOE and the British Pullman are among the World’s Top 25 Trains as listed by The Society of International Railway Travelers for high levels of dining, food, off-train experience and accommodation on board.


The Royal Scotsman

The Royal Scotsman is a Scottish luxury charter train run by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. The train is composed of nine cars; two dining cars, five state cars, one crew car, and one observation car. The two dining cars are named Victory and Raven with seating for sixteen and twenty people respectively. The observation car was converted from Pullman Kitchen Car – Snipe – built in 1960 by Metropolitan Cammell. Along with the other Pullman cars, Amber, Pearl, Topaz and Finch they were acquired by GS&WR (Great Scottish and Western Railway Co.) in 1989 and converted into theobservation saloon and passenger sleeping cars. Pullman car Raven, acquired at the same time as the other Pullman cars, was converted in 1992 as a replacement for the Gresley car that formed the kitchen. The Gresley car was damaged in a shunting incident on depot and as a wooden (Teak) bodied vehicle was deemed unsafe to continue passenger operations and was withdrawn from mainline service.

Royal Canadian Pacific

The Royal Canadian Pacific is a luxury excursion passenger train operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), inaugurated on June 7, 2000, after the CPR received the royal designation for the service from Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. The train operates seasonally from June to September, on CPR trackage through the Rocky Mountains inAlberta and British Columbia. All trains are based out of Calgary, Alberta, at the former Via Rail station near CPR’s corporate headquarters. A typical excursion would be a 1,050 km (650 mi) route from Calgary through the Columbia River Valley and Crowsnest Pass, before returning to Calgary. Such a trip would take six days and five nights with no operating at night in order to preserve the sight-seeing of mountain scenery during the daylight hours. The train consists of up to eight luxury passenger cars built between 1916 and 1931, and is powered by restored first-generation diesel locomotives.

The Ghan, Australia

The Ghan is a passenger train operating between Adelaide, Alice Springs, and Darwin on the Adelaide–Darwin railway in Australia. Operated by Great Southern Railway and with locomotives provided by Pacific National, the entire journey takes 48 hours to travel the 2,979 kilometres (1,851 mi) and around half that (24 hours) to the midpoint at Alice Springs. The service’s name is an abbreviated version of its previous nickname The Afghan Express, unofficially bestowed on the “express passenger” service of the Commonwealth Railways in 1923, by one of its crews. The train’s name honours Afghan camel drivers who arrived in Australia in the late 19th century to help find a way to reach the country’s unexplored interior. The original Ghan ran for the last time in 1980 and now its preservation is in the hands of The Ghan Preservation Society, which repairs sections of the old narrow gauge track and some notable sidings. It was not until October 1980 that a new standard gauge line from Tarcoola, South Australia (a siding on the Trans-Australian Railway) to Alice Springs was constructed, and the train took the form it has today. The new line is located approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) west of the former line, in an effort to prevent washout due to rain. It was also hoped that the construction of the new line would improve the on-time performance of the train.

Indian Pacific, Australia

The Indian Pacific is a twice-weekly passenger rail service running between Perth and Sydney, Australia. It is one of the few truly transcontinental trains in the world. The train first ran in 1970 after the completion of gauge conversion projects in Western and South Australia. The route includes the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track; a 478-km stretch over the Nullarbor Plain. In 1983, the service added a short trip to include Adelaide. A one-way trip once took 75 hours, but with line and efficiency improvements it now takes 65 hours. Sitting carriages were included between Sydney and Port Pirie from 1980. The train currently has three classes, branded as Platinum, Gold Kangaroo and Red Kangaroo and can also carry passengers’ motor vehicles. ROUTE. The route leaves East Perth Station by the dual gauge line to Northam. It heads east to Kalgoorlie, and travels by the Trans-Australian Railway to Port Augusta over the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track on the Nullarbor Plain measuring 478 kilometers. The train continues south to Coonamia (near Port Pirie). The train originally ran direct from Port Pirie to Peterborough with the South Australian Railways providing connecting services to Adelaide at Port Pirie and Peterborough. However, since the opening of theCrystal Brook to Adelaide line in 1983, the train has run via Adelaide, adding 390 km (240 mi) to the journey. The Indian Pacific returns along the same track to Crystal Brook and turns east again towards Broken Hill. From Broken Hill, the train continues across New South Wales to Parkes, climbs over the Blue Mountains, joins the Western suburban line and terminates at Central station in Sydney. Occasionally due to trackwork or other reasons the Indian Pacific is diverted via the cross-country line from Parkes to Stockinbingal and arrives at Sydney via the Southern Highlands line instead of the Blue Mountains line. In 1970 the journey took 75 hours. With subsequent track improvements and reductions to the time needed to change locomotives and crew, the whole journey now takes 65 hours despite the longer distance. The journey of 3115 km from Perth to Adelaide is a third less than the full journey.

Photo: Indian Pacific, Australia. Author-Bahnfrend

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