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Train Travel

steamThe train has to be the best form of travel. No hanging around at airports, or making your way out of town to reach one. Not being restricted to your seat for hours, as on a bus. And avoiding the fatigue of being the driver - and the arguments if you get lost. You can take in the scenery, perhaps be truly ensconced in local life, and if you can afford it, spend days being waited on and nights in the comfort of a sumptuous cabin. You just can't beat a good train journey.

To get in the mood I recommend you read The Great Railway Bazaar written by Paul Theroux.

My own travels began as a timid teenager with an InterRail ticket around Europe. See my blog on the experience here.

The Bullet Train - I'll be in Japan this summer so will beable to tell a first-hand tale soon. The super-efficiency of the Japan Railways (JR) system is world renowned. They travel at speeds of 333 km per hour. Between Tokyo and Osaka, the two largest metropolises in Japan, up to thirteen trains per hour with sixteen cars each (1,323 seats capacity) run in each direction with a minimum headway of three minutes between trains. Although we think of Japan as the master of the Bullet train, as they began there back in 1964, in fact the French and Chinese have surpassed them on speed. Their trains travel at up to 485km per hour.

The Local Train - When I first visited Egypt we took a train from Cairo to Luxor. Getting on the train was an extreme effort in itself. When the train pulled into the platform - late - the passengers surged forward, not stopping to allow the existing passengers room to exit. There was a crush of bodies for at least half an hour. We were told, You must get on and get your seat. Our rucksacks were whisked off overhead into the carriage so we had to join the melee to attempt to follow them. There are often 'tourist' class trains, but taking the 3rd class option with the locals can be much more interesting.

The Party Train - Doug blogged for QA of how his train journey from Bangkok to Chaing Mai in Thailand turned into a multi-cultural party. quirkyaccom.com/chiang-mai-party-train

danubeThe Luxury Train - There are many of these opulent trips that cross the world.   Of course the Orient Express, from London or Paris to Venice, is probably the most famous of these but there are many more. Join the El Transcantabrico across Northern Spain and savour the food, wine and culture of this region. The Danube Express offers classic glamour on various routes across Eastern Europe. Experience such fascinating destinations as Istanbul (one of my favourite cities), Transylvania and Warsaw. How better to cross South Africa and reach your luxury game lodge than on The Blue Train. The Ghan whiskes you through the Australian desert from Adelaide to Darwin without having to swot at a fly. The Rocky Mountaineer, takes you on a unique journey through The Canadian Rockies and Whistler.

The Ultimate UK Train Journey - The Royal Scotsman carries just 36 guests through the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the views can be truly appreciated from the open-deck observation carriage.

Extreme Trains - One of the steepest train journeys in the world covers 20 km of sublime Norwegian scenery. The Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana) winds its way from Myrdal to Flåm, 865 metres below, nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord.  The highest rail line reaches an altitude of 5072m and travels between the Tibetan capital Lhasa and Golmud in Qinghai of China. The longest passenger train is possibly The Ghan of Australia with 49 coaches (approximately 1.2km long). The longest route is the Trans-Siberian Railway - a backpackers special - which runs between Moscow with branches going through Mongolia and Manchuria to China, and it continues on to North Korea. The slowest train could be the last running train in Cambodia, which sways along with a top speed of 17km an hour.  It takes 24 hours to do what would take you 4 hours by bus! It travels from Battambang to Phnom Penh once a week, and it is said that the track hasn't been maintained for 8 years. But the advantage is you can ride on the roof!

austrainSteam Trains - Go to Vintage Trains, the award winning UK steam train operator for a variety of trips back in time. The Cathedral Express covers a large part of the UK, and multi-day tours are possible. Many of its routes take in the cathedral cities and coastal towns and castles of England.

Super Modern Train - In Australia there is talk of a super-modern high speed train which looks altogether different. It would take just 3 hours to travel between Sydney and Melbourne. It will offer safe, low-carbon, double decker transport with a really sleek design.

Train carriage accommodation - If you have a love of trains but are happy to stay in one spot, take a look at some of the wonderful restored train carriages within our directory at QuirkyAccom. Click here to see our selection.