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Rail journeys

Rail journeys travel guide

There’s just something romantic about travel by train. The rhythmic swaying, the views from the window, the alluring departures boards. Deep down, we are trainspotters all

Of course, some trains are more interesting to spot than others. South America has some great ones: the Devil’s Nose is Ecuador’s most hair-raising, a series of perilously steep switchbacks through the mountains, while Peru has a ride that goes even higher – the Lima to Huancayo ride boasts a station in excess of 4,780m, and oxygen is piped into the carriages. You can even explore the Amazon by rail: hop on Brazil’s Madeira to Mamore line.

In North America most locals prefer cars and planes, which leaves the terrific trains free for travellers. Clear-domed viewing carriages open up views of New Mexican desert, Californian coast and Louisiana bayou, with rail passes making these a great-value ride.

In Europe the train is king – while old-school Orient Express glamour will cost a small fortune, you can still make the iconic trip across the continent to Istanbul on regular services (with stop-offs in Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade) for much less. And countries such as Switzerland are so set up for train travel – including mountain funiculars and scenic rail masterpieces – you wouldn’t explore any other way.

Leaving Europe by train can be done on the epic Trans-Siberian Railway, on which it’s a six-day trundle to Beijing, China – another country where the railways are the prime way to get around (if you can decipher the signs). There are some classic train trips to take in the rest of Asia too: don’t miss India’s immense rail network, or the slick services from Bangkok to Singapore.

Australian train trips are all about scale – with the longest stretch of straight track in the world (a section of the epic Perth to Sydney journey), this is the place to be blown away by the wonder of nothing. Just bring a good book, a bottle of Aussie red and watch the world chug by.

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