Training wheels: to travel by train

Training wheels: to travel by train

Agatha Christie once said: "To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life." 

While many people list river or ocean cruising as the most comfortable way to travel, seeing the world from a train has much to recommend it. Here are our top six:

The Ghan

One of the greatest train marathons of the world, extending 1,841 miles across Australia from the humid tropics of Darwin through the blistering red desert of Alice Springs to tree line streets and gracious sandstone homes in Adelaide. 

There's no train window view like this anywhere else, as this megalith, up to 26 coaches long, rolls through an endless unfolding of red and umber. Look out for kangaroos and camels - descendants of the animals of the Afghan drovers who build the line in 1929.

Blue Train: Pretoria to Cape Town

The luxurious Blue Train's 27-hour, 1,600 kilometre journey crosses South Africa diagonally, stopping at the diamond mines of Kimberley on the way south and at the colonial outpost of Matjiesfontein on the way north.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, the Blue Train is no offering special journeys from Pretoria to Hoedspruit, in the Kruger Park area.

Seven Stars: Kyushu, Japan

Japan's answer to the Orient Express, the Seven Stars in Kyushu, features seven carriages that hold just 30 people in 14 suites. The interiors showcase the best in Japanese craftsmanship, such as walls of rosewood and maple, walnut floors, shoji paper screens as window coverings and sliding glass doors etched with flowers and birds. 

Seven Stars offers two itineraries: a two-day option, which stays around Fukuoka, or a four-day journey that does a loop of the southern Japan island. Both are in high demand, so the company selects applications by lottery.

The TranzAlpine

Experience the South Island's striking natural landscape by taking a train between Christchurch and Greymouth. Along this journey you'll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. 

The TranzAlpine is one of the world's great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours. You'll traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, to the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps - the journey of a lifetime.

Palace on Wheels

Not the only luxury train in the subcontinent - but for many, the most famous - the Palace on Wheels is the most relaxing way to see the sights of Rajasthan while avoiding the heat and crowds of tourist India. Though advertised as 'in the style of the Majarajahs', the 14 carriages are, fortunately, modern with private showers. 

There is a nod to the past in that each has its own 'khidmatagar' - or personal steward. The seven-night journey out of Delhi is possibly the nicest way of lapping up India's top heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, without getting your sandals dusty.

Glacier Express in Switzerland

Possibly the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express takes eight hours to travel 180 miles from St. Moritz to Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn. The train follows an engineering marvel of a route, passing 291 bridges and 91 tunnels. The panorama cars in first and second class have extra-tall windows to maximise the breaktaking views of the Swiss Alps. Three-course meals are available in the dining car or at your seat.

This article is from RCA Village's magazine Evolve - Autumn 2018. 

Photo by Ryan Tang on Unsplash

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