The daily commute into Waterloo is not particularly inspiring, but an occasional glimpse of the Orient Express on its way to Dover makes us dream of more exciting journeys.
Trains evoke travel from the golden age and can be so much more than just getting from A to B. Cox & Kings has asked its team of regional experts about their favourite train journeys…
1.) Tranz-Alpine, New Zealand by Ellen Cross, Australasia expert
In less than five hours, the Tranz-Alpine train passes through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes on its journey across South Island. From the historic cityscape of Christchurch to the spectacular gorges and river valleys of Waimakariri River, my favourite section is the climb up into the stunning snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps and Arthur’s Pass.
2.) Jungfrau Railway, Switzerland by Neil Davis, Europe expert
The excitement starts as you board the connecting train at Kleine Scheidegg station, knowing you’ll soon be snaking around hairpin bends, wondering how the next mountain-view can possibly outdo the last. See the mighty North Face of the Eiger closer than you imagined and the impressive Grindelwald- Fiescher glacier from an underground station. The train to the highest railway station in Europe is not to be missed.
3.) Konkan railway, India by Agomoni Ghosh, India expert
The 14-hour journey from Mumbai to Mangalore aboard the Trivandrum Rajdhani Express is one of India’s lesser known routes, yet the picturesque west coast – covered by the Konkan service – makes the journey a delight. Every turn presents a new view: mountains, paddy fields, coast and rivers. The highlight for me is crossing the vast 2km bridge over the wide Sharavathi river, from one palm-dense bank to the other.
4.) Rovos Rail, South Africa by Jon Fitzsimmons, Africa expert
I boarded in Cape Town for a leisurely 2-night train journey to Pretoria, one of several routes on offer. Before long I was in a plush armchair in the observation car, enjoying a beer and watching Table Mountain disappear into the distance. My journey highlight was the sight of 25,000 flamingoes just outside Kimberley as the sun was setting, followed by a four course farewell lobster dinner. Magical.
5.) Andean Explorer, Peru by Katie Liddel, Latin America expert
It has to be the luxurious Andean Explorer between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca. The three course onboard lunch is a real treat, and gently breaks up the 10-hour journey. My favourite place on board is the open observation car at the back of the train: I spent hours admiring Andean mountains, plains and villages from here. Grazing alpaca herds too. Well worth the upgrade from a long and bumpy bus journey.
6.) Rocky Mountaineer, Canada by Michael Allford, Canada expert
Domed windows offer spectacular views across the stunning British Columbia and Alberta countryside, as this train travels through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. On board, food is exceptional and staff informative and entertaining. A highlight was when the train slowed so we could see black bears eating salmonberries along the tracks and a bald eagle soaring above the rushing river.
For more information about Cox & Kings’ train journeys around the world, please visit their website.