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All Aboard: The Top 5 Train Journeys In The World

We look at the best routes to take by rail

Sadly to most of us train travel tends to conjure up images of the cramp commuter carriages, curled up cheese sandwiches and being forced to listen to music blaring out of the adjacent teen’s mobile phone.

However, next time you clamber onto a packed passenger train and gaze out at the luggage compartment due to the seats all being taken,  don’t forget there are some truly epic train journeys out there, if you know where to look. Admittedly they’re never going to be the ones that will take you to and from the office on a wet, Monday morning but if you’re looking for an adventure, MoneyMaker’s guide to the top rail routes in the world should bring train travel to the forefront of your mind and not in a bad way. All aboard…

5. The Rocky Mountaineer, North America and Canada

Rocky Mountaineer
Morants Curve near Lake Louise, Alberta. Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer

Oozing luxury, this three-day Rocky Mountaineer trip starts in Seattle and takes in Vancouver, Kamloops, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. A new route for 2015, it will be best experienced in their ‘Goldleaf’ class.

The glass domed coach transports you right into the heart of the scenery and, with breathtaking views all around, you won’t know where to point your camera first. Hosts are on hand to take care of your every need, and nothing but sumptuous gourmet meals are served onboard.

Overnight stays are in Fairmont hotels making this trip perfect for those who don’t fancy trying a sleeper carriage. You can combine Goldleaf with a Fairmont Deluxe package, which not only gives you the most comfortable experience whilst travelling, but offers a fine accommodation experience too with your luggage delivered directly to you each night.

When booking your holiday, you can also add a number of city tours, which adds a lovely concierge touch and takes out the hassle of planning and booking excursions yourself.

4. The Mammoth Trans-Siberian, Russia

Experience the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway and the Trans-Mongolian Railway on board a private charter train.
Experience the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway and the Trans-Mongolian Railway on board a private charter train.

The Trans-Siberian offers an outstanding, memorable trip and the ‘Mammoth Trans-Sibe’ only enhances this further. You’ll cross ten time zones and two continents, as you make your way from Moscow to Beijing.

You are encouraged to build stops into the trip as your experience really gets going once you step off of the train and embrace the local culture. You can explore independently or enrol the services of a specialist company to help with the arrangements.

Visit historical monuments, join a trek or stay with a Nomadic family in Mongolia. These adventures and more are all accessible via the longest train journey in the world.

First class on the service is comparable to the same service in the UK, and there’s 30 minute stops every 3-4 hours to offer a welcome break & chance to take in the local scenery.

3. The Palace on Wheels, India

Palace on Wheels
Palace on Wheels: Enjoy the regal charm of this unique train

Notoriously difficult to travel by road, India relies heavily on its rail network. However, the stereotype of tightly packed carriages is often very true. Not so for the Palace on Wheels, which is a little different to the regular Indian Railways locomotives, enabling you to see the country with real regal splendor.

This truly unique train was extensively refurbished in 2009, before being re-launched as a luxury tourist train, and each coach has four twin-bedded cabins and mini pantry and lounge, ensuring that drinks are always available and guests have space to relax. Each bedroom has running water and a shower making it more of a hotel on wheels than a train sleeper carriage.

There are a choice of two restaurants offering traditional Rajasthani cuisine, along with flavours from Asia and Europe. A well stocked bar makes for a pleasant after dinner drink whilst mingling with other travelers.

There is a choice of itineraries available, varying in length from 5 – 13 days. The most popular of which is named ‘A Week in Wonderland’, and travels from New Delhi to Agra. There are also a number of extensions that you can add on to your tour, giving you the opportunity to create your dream Indian adventure.

2.Belmond, United Kingdom

Northern Belle
The luxury Northern Belle locomotive

If time doesn’t allow you to take a trip overseas, you can still enjoy a day of indulgent train travel right here in the UK.

The British Pullman and Northern Belle are locomotives both owned by luxury brand Belmond and offer a selection of ‘Dining on the Move’ day trips and high-end weekend getaways.

A wonderful way to celebrate a Birthday or special occasion or even really wow a first date, step back into ‘The Golden Age Of Travel’ on the British Pullman. Prices start from £225 per person and include a five-course lunch with champagne and wine plus an enjoyable scenic journey through the Great British countryside.

If you are a fan of Masterchef you may well have seen contestants in previous years cooking for VIP guests onboard this particular train. It is more likely, however, that you will be in the capable hands of Executive Head Chef Robbie Gleeson. Each dish is freshly prepared onboard in a painfully small galley and features the finest seasonal delicacies, with more than 150kg of caviar and 22,000 bottles of Champagne are served on their UK journeys each year.

1. The Blue Train, South Africa

Blue Train: The ultimate in luxury rail travel
Blue Train: The ultimate in luxury rail travel

Otherwise known as the moving 5 star hotel, the Blue Train is synonymous with luxury and personal service. Travelling through South Africa, it offers some of the most diverse and breathtaking scenery in the world.

A trip on a Blue Train is an exclusive one. One train accommodates 74 guests in 37 suites, and the second accommodates just 58 guests in 29 suites. Comfort is a high priority and the trains have been designed with optimum suspension, braking, lighting and under floor-heating for a sleek and smooth ride.

To get the most out of the experience, book into one of the upgraded suites, which have bathtubs in the en-suite bathrooms and offer private digital entertainment centre’s with a selection of CD’s and DVD’s. A camera is mounted on the front end of the trains enabling guests to tune in to watch the scenery from the drivers view.

Fax facilities are available on the train as well as the option to send a postcard by mail. Shopaholics need not fret as the boutique offers a treasure trove of jewellery and choice of momentos. Meanwhile refreshments include a high tea lounge and postprandial whiskey lounge to give travellers the kind of choice you don’t regularly get on the tube.