Three Great Train Journeys of the World
Travel in Luxury by Train
You just can't beat a train holiday.
The romance and sheer relaxation of it all is superb. Why go through the hassles involved with driving your car around when you can sit back in comfort and gaze out the window at the scenery unfolding before you?
Return to the opulent days of deluxe rail travel aboard a sumptuous air-conditioned compartment through India, be a little more adventurous and steam across the Russian continent, or steep yourself in the romantic past of the iconic Orient Express.
Here are three Great Train Journeys you must experience in your lifetime
The Birth of the Luxury Train
A Revolution in Travel
George Mortimer Pullman created a luxury train in Britain, featuring the ultimate in nineteenth century technology and opulence. With sleeping carriages, parlour cars and meals served on board, the Pullman Limited Express began operating in 1881.
The train ran from London to Brighton and was the first to be illuminated by the new electricity.
Shortly afterwards, by connecting trains to ferries, Pullman made safe and comfortable train travel between London and Paris a reality.
The Orient Express
A Legend is Born
Then in 1883, Georges Nagelmackers ran the first Orient-Express train service.
The initial route ran from Paris to Giurgi in Romania, via Strasbourg, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest.
The Simplon Tunnel was built in 1906, cutting the trip from Paris to Venice significantly and by 1921 the Orient Express ran to Istanbul.
The 1920s and 1930s were the heyday of the legendary train, the elaborate meals, decadent company and fine wines characterised this era of luxury rail travel. Royalty, celebrities, courtesans, conmen and spies traveled together, rolling across Europe in opulence.
The Magnificent Orient Express
The Return of the Orient Express
The Legend is Reborn
In 1982 the new restored Venice Simplon-Orient-Express made its maiden run from London to Venice.
Today, the gleaming carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express carry passengers across Europe in exquisite surroundings on one of the most romantic journeys in the world.
Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie's Classic Poirot Mystery
Murder on the Orient Express is a classic. An entralling book, it's also an enthralling film and one of the Great Movies You Must See in Your Lifetime.
Agatha Christie's fussy sleuth Hercule Poirot books passage on the famed Orient Express only to find himself at the centre of a murder investigation.
The mysterious Mr. Ratchett is found murdered in his cabin, and it's up to Poirot to discover the murderer. With no forensic science as we know it, no polygraphs, no chemical analyses, Poirot gets to the heart of the mystery with only his impeccable logic to guide him.
Through polite, yet assertive, questioning of the other passengers, Poirot uses his little gray cells to develop a startling theory that he will ultimately share with everyone aboard.
Aboard the Deccan Odyssey
The Deccan Odyssey
A mobile hotel
Europe has the Orient Express and India has the Deccan Odyssey. Both have that 19th century appeal although the Deccan is a recent addition to the list of romantic train journeys.
India's unique blend of history, culture and scenery have intoxicated western travellers for centuries. Life on the subcontinent is more vibrant and colourful than almost anywhere else, as spellbinding today as when the East India Company set up outposts in the 17th Century. The railway arrived in India in 1853, and now there are almost 40,000 miles of the biggest and busiest railway networks in the world.
It is said that more than anything else, trains created modern India. What is certain is that today's India couldn't exist without it.
In the Deccan Odyssey, you travel through time and cultures in the kingdom of the Marathas - Maharashtra. It's called a hotel train and it operates a seven-day circuit of Maharashtra. So you're basically staying in a mobile hotel, with excursions arranged for you daily.
Deccan Odyssey Locomotive
The Trans Siberian Express
The world's longest continuous rail line
Stretching almost 10,000 kms from Moscow to Vladivostok, the very name of this engineering marvel evokes images of exotic, adventurous, travel.
The Trans Siberian is the longest continuous rail line on earth, each run clattering along in an epic journey over one third of the globe, an experience of almost continuous movement, seven days or more of unabated train travel through the vast expanse of Russia.
The world's longest train journey is no longer an endurance test thanks to this new 21-car train that provides comfort unknown since Tsarist times.
Route of the Trans Siberian - Across the endless steppes
Fabulous Journey across Russia
Intriguing, delightful, beautiful, mysterious Russia, a vast land stretching from the shores of the Baltic to the Sea of Japan and to within sight of Alaska.
Long cloaked in mystery, Russia is only now revealing its magnificent treasures to outside eyes: from the monumental buildings of Moscow to the magnificent Ural mountains, the endless Steppes and the clear waters of Lake Baikal, largest freshwater lake in the world.
Steeped in history and with an incredible legacy of art, music and literature, this is the land of Catherine the Great, of Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Lenin. Today's Russia wears its history with pride.
Across this great country the Trans-Siberian Railway runs like a steel ribbon connecting east and west. Opened in stages between 1891 and 1916, this extraordinary engineering achievement is a vital national asset - and by far the best way to experience the grandeur of Russia's rarely visited interior.
How about you?
Have you ever traveled by luxury train?
© 2008 Susanna Duffy