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I'm an Aussie who likes wandering all over the world but keeps coming back home to paradise and my family. If you are reading this on one of my travel blogs, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them. If you are reading the Diabetes and weight loss blog - I hope it helps in your battle with the beast. Cheers, Alan

Monday, December 07, 2015

For Lovers of Train Travel


I was pondering past travels last night and realised I had never collected all the train trips together. I will continue Sri Lanka reports soon but decided to write this while it is fresh in my mind.

I grew up in the mid-20th century in New South Wales, Australia when air travel was a rare luxury and rail was the only economical way for us to travel to visit a far-flung family. Christmases were spent in Narrabri, a day and a night to the west via three trains, where Grandfather's house was near the station and I spent hours watching the wheat and other goods trains being shunted in the yards.

I loved those trips, back in an era when steam was king and diesel was new. Clickety clack, clickety clack unendingly lulling me to sleep despite the discomfort of seats not designed to be slept in. Opening the window on warm nights and feeling the breeze, then the unheralded sudden darkness and soot in my face as we entered a tunnel at speed with Mum yelling at me to shut the window, the doppler tolling of warning bells as we passed road crossings, the rush to the counter at Railroad Refreshment Rooms to be sure to be served before the train moved on, seeing the beautiful but sometimes harsh countryside of my native land passing by.

In the '60s I joined the RAAF as an apprentice and received travel warrants for visits by train on leave twice annually to home, 2000km to the north. Two nights and a day each way, coach class.

Next year I am planning another short 'round the world trip. I have already booked The Canadian across the Rockies from Vancouver to Edmonton, followed by the Coast Starlight down the US West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles. Before Canada I intend wandering Tamil Nadu, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Cuba by train; all brief visits but spending time in trains in each of those countries.     

I had not realised how much train travel was in my blood until, during the planning for my next trip, I looked back and listed many of the world's great train journeys included in my travels over the years. Whenever I had to make a choice between air and rail, the train always won unless time made it totally impractical.

Links to trip reports are highlighted where appropriate. Some are detailed reports of the trip, some include mention of several trips and a few mention the train trip as part of the report on a city or region.

1950s and '60s. Australia, multiple times on these routes, including returns: 
  • Grafton > Sydney or Newcastle (North Coast Mail)
  • Newcastle > Werris Creek
  • Werris Creek > Narrabri (Motor Rail)
  • Inverell > Moree > Narrabri
  • Sydney > Melbourne (Spirit of Progress, Southern Aurora, Intercapital Daylight)
  • Grafton > Brisbane
1970s-2003    Worked for a living…        
2003    Spain    Madrid > Granada
2004    Australia    Murwillumbah > Sydney Lament for a lost line.
2006    USA    NYC Penn > Buffalo      
2008    Egypt    Cairo > Aswan
2010    USA   Washington DC > New York City      
  “  “    Peru    Puno > Cusco    Andean Explorer
  “  “    Peru    Piscacucho > Machu Picchu    Vistadome          
2011    UK    Stansted > London    Stansted Express  
  “  “    UK – France    London > Paris    Eurostar
  “  “    France    Paris > Lausanne    Lyria TGV  
  “  “    France – Switzerland    Lausanne > Visp
  “  “    Switzerland    Visp > Zermatt          
  “  “    Switzerland    Zermatt > Gornergrat Gornergrat Bahn
  “  “    Switzerland    Zermatt > Chur    Glacier Express
  “  “    Switzerland    Chur > Tirano    Bernina Express
  “  “    Italy    Tirano > Milan
  “  “    Italy    Milan > Venice      
  “  “    Italy - Croatia    Venice > Zagreb
  “  “    Bosnia and Herzegovina    Mostar > Sarajevo
  “  “    UK    London > Ipswich      
2012    China (report is on all China train trips below)    
  “  “    Hangzhou > Shanghai G 300km/hr
  “  “    China    Shanghai > Suzhou    K 140km/hr  
  “  “    China    Suzhou > Beijing    G 300km/hr  
  “  “    China    Beijing > Zhengzhou    D 220km/hr  
  “  “    China    Zhengzhou > Xi'An    G 300km/hr  
  “  “    Myanmar (Burma)    Thazi > Kalaw
2013    France    Paris > Hendaye
  “  “    Spain – Portugal    Irun > Lisbon    Trenhotel
  “  “    Portugal – Spain    Lisbon > Madrid    Trenhotel
  “  “    Spain    Madrid > Cordoba
  “  “    Spain    Cordoba > Algeciras
  “  “    Morocco    Tangier > Fes
  “  “    Morocco    Fes > Meknes
  “  “    Morocco    Meknes > Casablanca
2015    Sri Lanka    Colombo > Ella
  “  “    Sri Lanka    Anuradhapura > Colombo (to be written)

I have also travelled on the local transit metros, trams and buses in almost every city I have visited, but I'll leave those for another post.

Cheers, Alan, Australia