Great train journeys
For many people, there’s a romantic and old-fashioned appeal when travelling long-distance by rail that just isn’t matched by flying or driving. Wending your way along scenic tracks gives you a chance to experience and interact with areas in a completely different way. There are plenty of rail journeys across the world for you to try, all offering some unique sights or interesting perspectives.
In today’s world where the primary concern is often about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, taking the time for a train journey may evoke images and feelings of a more relaxed, elegant age of travel. After all, how you get somewhere can be as important as arriving there.
The Flexicover Team showcases five great rail experiences here.
The Ghan; Australia
This is a journey of nearly 3,000km from Adelaide on the south coast to Darwin on the tropical ‘Top End’, bisecting the country through its vast heart. Originally called the Afghan Express, this honours Afghan camel drivers who came in the 19th century to find a way to reach the unexplored interior. Whilst travelling the route can be done in 3 days directly, many choose to spend a few days at the midway point – Alice Springs – which offers access to awe-inspiring landscapes such as the monolithic Uluru (‘Ayers Rock’) and the stunning rock formations of Kata Tjuta. The railway links vastly different landscapes, from the sweeping Adelaide Plains to the red earth and cobalt skies of the interior through to subtropical floral beauty as you speed to your final destination.
Trans-Asian routes; North/Central Asia
The epic and well-known Trans-Siberian Railway is a classic 7½ day journey of 9,289km across Russia from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. But there are 2 other routes out of Moscow – the Trans-Manchurian to Beijing via Harbin and the Trans-Mongolian via Ulaanbaatar. This latter one is arguably the most interesting, offering superb views of the Gobi Desert and a chance to stop off in Mongolia on the way. Though the trip can be done non-stop, breaking up the journey and seeing something of Siberia or Mongolia is highly recommended. Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk (for Lake Baikal) and the Mongolian capital are the most popular stopovers on this voyage into the steppes and rugged beauty of the central Asian landscape and culture.
The Sunset Limited; USA
This is one of America's oldest passenger train routes. Originally developed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 19th century to connect the major urban centres of New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, it winds its way through southern Arizona, New Mexico and central Texas. The name dates back to 1874, when the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway was known as the Sunset Route. For many passengers the desert sections are the most appealing for their desolate beauty and eerie unfamiliarity. The split-level trains with ‘Sightseer cars’ feature enormous windows that wrap upward into the ceiling, providing lateral views of the stark yet striking scenery along the train's route.
The Orient Express; Europe
Probably the most famous train journey in the world but it’s incorrect to think of it as just one train and one route – the itinerary and rolling stock of the Orient Express have changed many times through its history. The most popular route is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a luxury train journey from London to Venice taking in Paris, Innsbruck, Verona and some stunning Alpine scenery along the way. The journey is split across two equally lavish trains. Starting at London Victoria, a historic British Pullman train takes you through the Kent countryside to Folkestone, where a luxury coach then takes you under the English Channel. At Calais you board a Continental train of elegant 1920s sleeping-cars which takes you in five-star style all the way to classical Venice.
Seven Stars in Kyushu; Japan
Japanese trains are synonymous with punctuality, speed and safety but on this luxury locomotive you get to glide rather than hurtle through the historic ‘Nine Provinces’. Often referred to as ‘cruise train’ as, similar to a cruise ship, passengers disembark for excursions along the route. There are two different itineraries starting and ending in Fukuoka – a two day 800km tour of northern Kyushu and a four day 1,200km circuit of the whole island. The train consists of seven coaches (five sleeping cars, a lounge and a dining car) which, unlike the crush of commuter trains, have a total capacity of just 28 passengers. The rear carriage features floor-to-ceiling observation windows to watch the serenity and beauty of Japan’s southern island go by.
Wherever you let the train take the strain this year, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.