The history of rail transport dates back nearly 500 years. Many railroads that passes through wonderful landscapes have until recently been a popular form of passenger transport. But with the invention of planes, these beautiful and sometimes treacherous routes are usually transformed into a tourist attractions.
1. Konkan Railway, India
The Konkan Railway is a railway line which runs along the Konkan coast of India. It runs from Thokur, near Mangalore in Karnataka to Roha railway station in Maharashtra through Goa, along the west coast of India and Western Ghats.
The Konkan railway experience is enriching for both domestic and foreign tourists. The travelers can experience breathtaking views - Arabian Sea beaches, gushing waterfalls, distant mountains, are a few examples of the landscapes that a Konkan Railway traveler will experience while on way to Goa from Mumbai.
Foreigners have a great experience if they take Konkan railways either from Goa to Mumbai or vice versa. Besides enjoying the beautiful Indian landscapes, they can also experience travelling by Indian railways.
Indian Railways is an icon for Indian culture. People from diverse regions of India travel in the same train and so one can get the glimpse of the varied cultures and traditions of India.
2. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Rocky Mountaineer offers over 45 Canadian vacation packages and four unique rail routes - three train journeys through British Columbia and Alberta to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and Calgary, and one train excursion from Vancouver to Whistler.
This world-renowned, luxurious train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada's West and is the best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies. In 2013, Rocky Mountaineer introduces a new three-day rail route, Coastal Passage, connecting Seattle to the Canadian Rockies.
Rocky Mountaineer was awarded the "World's Leading Travel Experience by Train" in 2005, 2006 and 2007 at the World Travel Awards, has been listed among the "World's Top 25 Trains" since 2005 by The Society of International Railway Travelers, and was recognized by National Geographic Magazine as one of the "World’s Best Journeys" in 2007.
The Society of American Travel Writers, the world’s largest organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, rated the Rocky Mountaineer as the world's top train ride in 2009. [link1, link2]
3. Argo Gede Train Railroad, Indonesia
There are two train services plying the Jakarta-Bandung route: the Parahyangan Express and the executive class Argo Gede.
The three hour journey to Bandung on the Argo Gede is an especially comfortable ride. The journey takes you through an amazingly lush landscape of mountains and valleys.
The train runs steadily on tracks elevated above plunging valleys, across a delightful vista of tea plantations, paddy fields, cascading streams and pastoral villages. [link]
4. Jungfrau Railway, Switzerland
This unique round-trip by modern cogwheel railway takes you first to Kleine Scheidegg, altitude 2061 metres (6760 ft), at the foot of the notorious Eiger North Wall. From here the Jungfrau Railway climbs to the station at Eigergletscher , well known for its mountain restaurant and polar dog kennels.
The trip continues through the Eiger tunnel to the stations at Eigerwand and Eismeer, with a five minute halt at each. Tourists can enjoy spectacular sightseeing through large observation windows hewn from solid Alpine rock.
And then the arrival on the Jungfraujoch (col), in the heart of a glorious glacier world on the very roof of Europe! Superb views extend as far as the summits of the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest in Germany. The Great Aletsch Glacier, at 22 km (13.7 mi) the longest ice-stream in the Alps, begins on the Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe.
5. Rovos Rail, South Africa
Rovos Rail is a private railway company operating out of Capital Park Station in Pretoria, South Africa. The Society of International Railway Travelers has regularly named the Pride of Africa, as the train is called, as one of the World's Top 25 Trains because of its excellent accommodation, public spaces, service, dining and off-train sightseeing.
Rovos Rail runs its train-hotel to a regular schedule on various routes throughout Southern Africa, from South Africa to Namibia and Tanzania. The trains consist of restored Rhodesia Railways (NRZ) coaches with two lounges, two restaurant cars, private sleeping compartments, each with private ensuite facilities.
The train has three types of accommodation on board, the smallest being a Pullman, at 76 square feet (7 sq m); the largest being the Royal Suite, which is half a train car, and 172 square feet (16 sq m). All types of cabins have ensuite shower, sink and toilet. The Royal also has a Victorian-style bathtub.
The train combine the golden age of rail travel with modern conveniences, creating an unforgettable extravagant elegance of a bygone era.
6. Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia
The Kuranda Scenic Railway is a name for the railway line that runs from Cairns, Queensland, Australia to the nearby town of Kuranda. The tourist railway snakes its way up the Macalister Range and is no longer used for regular commuter services.
It passes through the suburbs of Stratford, Freshwater (stopping at Freshwater Station) and Redlynch before reaching Kuranda. The line is used for some freight services and other passenger services, such as The Savannahlander. The railway is 37 km (23 mi) in length. It takes about one and three quarters of an hour to climb one way.
The tropical gardens Kuranda rail station are a well-known attraction in the area. Downhill the line cuts through the Barron Gorge National Park. The tourist train stops at a lookout, with a sweeping view of Barron Falls. A number of smaller waterfalls are passed, including Stoney Creek Falls, just metres from the train. As the train travels up and down, a detailed commentary of the railway's construction is provided.
7. Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, South Africa
The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe was the last remaining continually-operated passenger steam train in Africa, ending operation in June 2009. The railway was completed in 1928, and links the towns of George and Knysna in the Western Cape, South Africa.
The 3 hour journey also stops in the towns of Wilderness, Goukamma, and Sedgefield. The scenic 67-kilometre (42 mi) route hugs the rugged coastline of the Garden Route before ending by crossing a bridge over the lagoon in Knysna.
It was declared an officially preserved railway in 1992, carrying about 40,000 passengers per year at the time. A decade later, it carried 115,000 passengers per year, 70% of whom were foreign tourists.
8. Albula-Bernina Railway Line, Switzerland
Albula-Bernina Railway Line is operated by Rhaetian Railway - a Swiss transport company, that owning the largest network of all the private railways in Switzerland. The best known trains operating on the Albula/Bernina Railway are the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.
The Bernina Express is a train connecting Chur (or Davos) in Switzerland with Poschiavo and Tirano in Italy by crossing the Swiss Alps. For most of its journey, the train also passes along and through the World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes.
The Glacier Express crossing the Landwasser Viaduct
The Glacier Express travels from Zermatt to Davos or St. Moritz in around seven hours.The Glacier Express, which has been operating since 1930, is billed as "the world's slowest express train" and averages 36 km/h (22 mph). The trip on the Glacier Express is a 7½ hour railway journey across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and across the Oberalp Pass on the highest point at 2,033 m (6,670 ft) in altitude.
The Albula line and the Bernina line on the Bernina Express route were jointly declared a World Heritage Site in 2008. The trip on the Bernina Express through this World Heritage Site is a four-hour railway journey across 196 bridges, through 55 tunnels and across the Bernina Pass on the highest point at 2,253 metres (7.390 ft) in altitude.
The Bernina Railway built the Bernina line between 1908 and 1910, and then operated it independently until the 1940s, when the Rhaetian Railway took it over. The Bernina Express uses gradients of 7% to negotiate the difference in height of about 1800 meters (5.900 ft) from the summit at Ospizio Bernina to Tirano.
9. Chemin de Fer de La Mure, France
The Chemin de Fer de La Mure (the Mure railway) is a tourist railway in the department Isère near the city of Grenoble, France.
Following threats of closure in the mid-s1970s, the line was saved by an oil crisis, getting the chance of a further life to become one of the finest tourist railways in Europe with spectacular views over dams and lakes, and mountain scenery. It can be reached easily by road from Grenoble, or by trains on the SNCF line towards Gap.
10. Conway Scenic Railroad, USA
The Conway Scenic Railroad is a heritage railway in North Conway, New Hampshire. The railroad operates over two historic railway routes: a line from North Conway to Conway that was formerly part of the Conway Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, and a line from North Conway through Crawford Notch to Fabyan that was once part of the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad.
The Conway line is owned by Conway Scenic and the Mountain Division is owned by the State of New Hampshire. Russ Seybold is owner and president of the Conway Scenic. The railroad's main terminal is located in historic downtown North Conway in the Mount Washington valley. The station complex has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. [link]
Bonus: Chennai-Rameswaram Route, India
The only way to reach the Island of Rameswaram at the southern coast of India is through a dangerous path, The Chennai-Rameswaram route.
The Rameswaram runs along the southern coast of India crossing the Ramaswaram sea bridge over the Indian Ocean. Because of the strong prevailing winds, it can take over fifteen minutes to pass and has been the scene of many unfortunate accidents