For any diehard romantic, the whistleblowing and chugging sounds of a train leaving the station are some of most cherished moments of the eventful railway journey. In India, railways is a complete experience with traversing landscapes, buzzing platforms, sights and smells of local delicacies sold by on-the-go vendors and a delightfully comfortable commute in all! And of course, the lovable train journeys are not limited to India alone. World over, there are several rail routes that take you on spectacular tours. iTraveller handpicks a list of these must-try train journeys – an experience you can’t afford to miss in your lifetime.
1. Bernina Express (Switzerland-Italy) – Relive Yash Chopra films!
If you are a Bollywood buff, chances are you’ve caught glimpses of the fascinating Switzerland on big and small screens, thanks to many Hindi films (courtesy Yash Chopra!), set in the scenic mountainous country. But if you want to transcend the screen and enter any of those picturesque locations, Bernina Express gives you a chance to do so. Commuting between Switzerland and Italy, Bernina Express runs on the Rhaetian Railway network in the Albula/Bernina area.
Route: From St Moritz (Switzerland) to Tirano Glaciers (Italy); Attractions: Gorges, bridges, and loop tunnels
2. PeruRail, Peru – Chugging on top of the world
An out-of-the-world experience of its kind, a journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu is awe-inspiring in every sense of the word. Set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the Incan citadel Machu Picchu (above the Urubamba river valley) was built way back in the 15th century but continues to intrigue visitors with its enigmatic presence even to this day. From 2009, all the tourist trains leave from Poroy station, 13 kilometres west of Cuzco. You got to take a bus or taxi from downtown Cusco to reach Poroy.
Route: Cusco to Machu Picchu; Attractions: Beautiful rainforest, top-of-the-world views, Urubamba River or Sacred River
3. The Ghan, Australia – A kaleidoscopic journey
Sydney Opera House, Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour Bridge… Do these images instantly pop up in your mind when you think of Australia? Well, if that’s the only side of the country you are familiar with, then this will come as a complete surprise, and a pleasant one at that! The Ghan train service, from south to north of Australia, takes you a kaleidoscopic journey through hills, a stretch of desert, aboriginal Red Centre and the tropical Top End. The Ghan, operated by Great Southern Rail, travels 2,979 kilometres in 54 hours.
Route: Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin; Attractions: Katherine Gorge, Flinders ranges, Alice Springs, and awe-inspiring wilderness.
4. Rhine Valley Line, Germany – Fantasies Come True!
Travelling on the Rhine Valley Line is sure to be your wildest of fantasies come true! What else would you call a train journey that takes you through the land of castles, fortress and river bed? Sit back, relax and cruise through Koblenz and Mainz (home of Gutenberg, the man who invented the printing press), riverside vineyards and city of Cologne. Eurail Pass holders can change from train to boat or vice versa at various stops. The boats are operated by Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt AG (KD Rhine line).
Route: Koblenz-Mainz; Attractions: Castles, fortress and breath-taking landscapes
5. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, India – Mere Sapno Ki Rani
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is that cute-n-charming toy train most Indians instantly associate with the superhit song Mere Sapno Ki Rani, starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore (film Aradhana). It is listed as one of the five Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site! The narrow gauge railway runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal. Headquartered in the town of Kurseong, the toy train is a joy ride chugging through picturesque mountains and tea gardens.