Last updated on October 29th, 2023 at 12:07 pm
I love train travel, and my world travel dreams include great railway journeys.
Today I am writing to you from a train. A train that is taking me on an incredible railway journey that has long been one of my big dreams.
Why do I love rail travel?
It is often slow travel at its best, allowing a glimpse into the culture and lifestyle of a country you will never get from a plane window. And I freely admit I don’t like driving long distances.
On top of that, it is environmentally responsible travel. I hang my head in shame when I think of my annual carbon footprint due to flights.
I have already enjoyed great railway journeys in various parts of the world.
The Indian rail network plays a significant part in my rich travel memories in the sub-continent. From second-class day trains and sleepers to toy trains or mountain railways, train travel in India is the best way to meet the local people.
The Trans Alpine rail journey in New Zealand is a spectacular ride from coast to coast of the beautiful South Island. In Europe, the great rail journey from Marseilles in France to Rome in Italy showcases the glamorous French Mediterranean coastline, passes through the tiny principality of Monaco, and then the gorgeous Ligurian coast.
I still have a number of world travel dreams of great rail journeys. I would love to undertake some of the exciting rail trips available in North America. Traversing the Rockies and Canada.
The Trans Siberian or Trans Mongolian great railway journey is definitely on my bucket list – perhaps for next year.
In South Africa, there is a famous train that runs from Johannesburg to Cape Town that I would love to take one day.
In the meantime, here I am on Australia’s Trans Continental train, the Indian Pacific.
I am traveling 2,659 kilometers between the state capitals of Adelaide and Perth, across the vastness of the Nullabor Plain through some of the sunburned continent’s most remote and inhospitable landscapes.
This journey brings home to me both the immensity of Australia, the challenges involved in establishing such a railway line, and the vital role the railway played in connecting the world’s remotest city – Perth – with the more inhabited side of the country.
I imagine the great camel trains of equipment and supplies and the thousands of men working in the dry heat, risking injury and typhoid.
I have watched the sunrise from my berth and seen kangaroos hopping and Emus striding across some of Australia’s unique landscapes.
Traveling by rail can be a great travel experience for several reasons:
1. Scenic Views: Rail journeys often provide stunning views of landscapes, cities, and natural wonders that you might miss when traveling by air or car. You can relax in your seat and watch the scenery unfold outside your window.
2. Comfort and Space: Trains generally offer more legroom, wider seats, and the ability to move around than airplanes or buses. Passengers can also get up, walk around, or visit a dining car or lounge car, making the journey more comfortable.
3. Eco-Friendly: Trains are considered a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation than cars or planes. They typically produce fewer carbon emissions per passenger mile, making them a sustainable choice for conscious travelers.
4. Reliability: Train travel is often punctual and less susceptible to delays caused by traffic or weather conditions. This can help you plan your trip with more certainty. (I am not talking about the U.S. systems here).
5. Accessibility: Many train stations are located in the heart of cities and towns, making it convenient to access your destination. This eliminates the need for lengthy and expensive airport transfers to city centers.
6. Connectivity: Trains often offer Wi-Fi and power outlets, allowing you to stay connected and productive during your journey. This can be especially important for business travelers.
7. Social Experience: Train travel can be a more social experience. You can meet fellow passengers, initiate conversations, and even make new friends during your journey.
8. Cost-Effective: In some cases, train tickets can be more affordable than plane tickets, especially for shorter distances. Additionally, you can save money on accommodation if you take an overnight sleeper train.
9. No Baggage Fees: Unlike airlines, most train services do not charge extra fees for baggage, and you have easy access to your luggage during the trip.
10. Relaxation: The rhythmic motion of a train can be soothing, allowing you to relax, read a book, work, or enjoy the journey without the stress often associated with air travel.
11. Historic Charm: Many trains and rail routes have a rich history and can provide a sense of nostalgia, taking you back to a bygone era of travel.
12. Accessibility for Everyone: Trains are generally more accessible to people with mobility challenges or disabilities. Many train stations are equipped with facilities to accommodate passengers with special needs.
While train travel may not be the fastest option for long distances, it offers a unique and enjoyable travel experience that allows you to appreciate the journey itself, not just the destination. Whether you’re traveling through picturesque landscapes or urban environments, it can be a memorable and enriching way to explore different parts of the world.
Natasha von Geldern is a travel writer, editor, and blogger who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real by traveling the world. She is a contributor to Travel Wire Asia, Wild Junket Magazine, Yahoo! Total Travel, and Travelbite. You can find her on her travel website and blog, WorldWanderingKiwi.
Note: Articles by Natasha may contain affiliate links and may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link.