Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I'm supposed to be writing an article about the world's most beautiful train rides. Sadly, the assignment does not involve actually riding a train. It does at least involve thinking about riding trains.

If you've taken a particularly beautiful train ride, would you mind telling me about it? I'm especially interested in train rides that have some interesting connection to literature or film (e.g., obviously, the Orient Express). But any unusually beautiful train ride might do. I'm looking for a mixture of very-famous trains and trains no one has ever thought of taking before.

Here are a few I'm thinking of including, based on the pretty photos on the Internet. Have you actually taken one of these trains? Can you confirm or discourage my outsized fantasies about the beauty of the ride? If so, I'd be especially glad to hear from you.

Bernina Express
Kyle of Localsh
Glasgow-Fort William
Bratislava-Stary Smocovic
Lake Garda-Brenner-Salzburg
Mt. Snowdon in Wales
The West Highland Line from Mallaig to Glasgow
Le Petit Train Jaune from Pyrenees Orientales via Nice to Limone.
Andalusian Express
Hiram-Bingham Express from Cuzco to Machu Picchu
Alaskan Railroad
Cooper Canyon Railway
Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town
Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin.
Toy Train from Siliguri to Darjeeling
Qingzang railways from mainland China to Lhasa
The Silverton-Durango Narrow Gage
La Nariz Del Diablo from Riobamba to Alausi
New Delhi-Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Agra-Delhi
South Africa-Botswana-Zimbabwe-Zambia-Tanzania

Note to my editor: My commitment to accurate, first-hand reporting is so passionate that if you'd like to reconsider your budget, I will personally undertake to ride every one of these trains, back-to-back, beginning today. I will verify that they are beautiful with my own eyes. That is how hard I will work for you. That is the dedication and professionalism I will bring to my job. All you have to do is pick up the tab.


  1. i think you need a stringer or an editorial assistant or something, claire - it would be far too stressful for you to make all those journeys by yourself! - and you know what? - i'm so kind, generous, and giving that i will offer myself and my time to accompany you - hahahaha - what a GREAT assignment! - i left you my feedback on facebook - i'd *love* to take some trains through africa

  2. We rode Lisbon to Covilha in December of 2007. Mountains and castles and villages!

  3. Hey Claire,
    Just saw this post. I am not even sure, if you're still working on it. But one of the most exciting rides I've been on was from Quito to Cotopaxi in Ecuador. They let you ride on top of the train. It's not too fast, not too slow..Amazing scenery ending up at the feet of Cotopaxi, a magnificent volcanic mountain.