Rocky Mountaineer

North America
First-class

The Rocky Mountaineer has graduated to international status, as it has added Seattle, Washington to its repertoire in Western Canada. The train is comfortable and classy. Its luxury GoldLeaf Service, with custom-built glass dome coaches, offers fine dining on the lower level, including local wines, plus wind-in-the-face, outdoor viewing at the rear platform.

There are four routes offered by this train: Vancouver to Banff and Calgary; Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops; Vancouver to Jasper via Quesnel and Vancouver to Seattle.

To enjoy the cross-border link, board in Seattle, have a half-day trip that ends in Vancouver. You’d then spend one to two nights in Vancouver and continue on to any of the itineraries. You can’t purchase the Coastal Passage by itself – always with two additional days of rail. You can take this service in Silver or GoldLeaf. It usually leaves on selected Saturdays during the season.

Shangri-La Express

Asia
First-class

The private Shangri-La Express is not a luxury train, but it is at this writing the most modern hotel train in China. It far surpasses regular train service.

During our fall 2013 trip, we (Society of IRT co-owners Eleanor and Owen Hardy) were pleasantly surprised by the train’s comfort. The glass-like Chinese rails made for one of the smoothest rides we’ve had anywhere.

The train is modern and air-conditioned. It  has two cabin classes.

Diamond Class cabins are en-suite and have a large double bed. Heritage Class cabins have two lower twin beds and shared toilets and showers.

Glacier Express

Europe
First-class

The Swiss proudly hail the Glacier Express as the world’s slowest express. The train takes almost eight hours and the services of two private, narrow-gauge railroads to traverse the 168 mountainous miles between two posh resorts—Zermatt and St. Moritz. The Alpine route of the Glacier Express is what makes this train so marvelous. A serious quibble: we long for the old, second-class equipment which allowed us to open windows and photograph the fantastic scenery.

Bergen Railway

Europe
First-class

The complete Oslo-Bergen line was opened in 1909 as the only year-round land transport between Norway’s two largest cities. The 300-mile length of track passes through 200 tunnels and 18 miles of snowsheds in addition to crossing more than 300 bridges. The scenery on the 7-hour Bergen Railway trip across the Hardanger plateau, the largest wilderness area in Europe, is breathtaking.

Golden Pass Panoramic Express

Europe
First-class

Switzerland’s Panoramic Express trains boast vista-dome cars for maximum viewing of the spectacular mountain scenery between Montreux and Zweisimmen. Super Panoramic Express trains also have a special, eight-passenger viewing area in the front of the train, above the driver, for the ultimate in ringside seats.

Tren Crucero

South America
First-class

The Tren Crucero began service in 2014 and was just reviewed by The Society of International Railway Travelers in April, 2017.  The daytime-only train consists of four carriages–two dining cars and two lounge cars, with a capacity for 54 passengers. It operates between Quito and Guayaquil on a 4 day/4 night journey, with touring along the way and overnights in local hotels. Perhaps the star of the show is the fabulous outdoor viewing platform — a great places to take in volcanoes, cloud forests, and Andean towns.

When Eleanor & Owen Hardy, co-owners of The Society of International Railway Travelers, reviewed this train in April, 2017, they were thrilled with what they found: great, warm and professional staff; interesting off-train outings, beautiful train equipment, lovely haciendas and hotels for overnight stays, wonderful food. And all with a refined sense of social responsibility to the communities through which the train travels.  If you have been waiting for the “Gold Star” from The Society of IRT for this program, here it is. This train was just awarded World’s Top 25 Trains status by The Society of International Railway Travelers in June 2, 2017.

This wonderful video, just posted, is a great look at the entire program.

 

Canadian

North America
First-class

The Canadian is VIA Rail Canada’s flagship train. It runs between Toronto and Vancouver three times a week, traveling 2,775 miles.

IRT recommends VIA’s new Prestige Class, introduced in 2015, with large bedroom with double bed, full en suite bathroom, plus a host of amenities including flat-screen TV (for videos only), unlimited free drinks, including alcoholic drinks, 24-hour butler service and first choice for meals (included in your fare). A major delight is exclusive access to the great dome cars for seeing the sights day or night.

The schedule from Toronto to Jasper allows three nights on board (10 p.m. departure Vancouver, 1:00 p.m. arrival Jasper.) All the way to Vancouver is four nights (three days, 14 hours and 42 minutes!) Arrival in Vancouver is scheduled for mid-morning.

Indian Pacific

Australia & the Pacific
First-class

Australia’s transcontinental Indian Pacific offers a twice-weekly service in both directions between Perth and Sydney, via Adelaide, across more than 2,704 miles. Almost 300 miles of it is across the longest straight track in the world, the Nullarbor Plain. The journey takes three nights, and our travelers report it’s frequently a very jolly departure, with many Aussies traveling the route, especially around holiday periods.

Ghan

Australia & the Pacific
First-class

The Ghan’s wild history started in 1878. That year, construction began on a line from Port Augusta. For about 50 years, until 1929, the last leg to Alice Springs was on Afghan camels, and that’s where today’s train gets it name. The Alice to Darwin “Top End” route, dreamed of for more than a century, started construction in 2001. The first train arrived Darwin in 2004. The service has been swamped with travelers. It takes 48 hours—two nights on board—to travel from Adelaide to Darwin over 1,852 miles of track. The Ghan has added Platinum luxury-class service. Currently it runs twice a week from April to October – but just once a week year round. Urgent to know: do not book your international air until we have confirmed your space on the trains! Schedules subject to change.

Flam Railway

Europe
First-class

With the Flåm Railway, it’s what you see outside that counts. In about an hour, the line climbs some 2,833 feet from Flåm station, nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord, to the mountain station at Myrdal on the Bergen Railway. On the 12.4-mile-long ride, you’ll see rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls cascading down the sides of steep, snow-capped mountains and farms clinging dizzily to sheer slopes.

The Flåm Railway is one of the world’s steepest standard-gauge railways, with a gradient of 5.5%. The railway recently underwent a facelift; its new fleet of trains, in forest green livery, comprises five engines and 12 cars. It also boasts new interiors and a unique guide and loudspeaker service.