The right track
Discover the world’s most romantic rail journeys, from the Andes to the Canadian Rockies. By Alex Greig.
Bears may stop honey-seeking (or whatever it is bears do in their downtime) to idly watch the Rocky Mountaineer (rockymountaineer. com) as it carves through the Canadian Rockies on its journey from Vancouver to Banff. This is the only rail service taking passengers on the First Passage to the West, a historic route connecting the east and west of Canada.
The seven-day trip from Moscow to Vladivostok – aboard the timelessly glamorous TransSiberian Railway (transsiberian. com.au) – is one of the longest rail journeys but we guarantee time will fly as you zip from one exotic Russian town to another.
South America’s first luxury sleeper train traverses the varied terrain of the Andes, across jagged mountains dotted with alpacas and through traditional villages, with a connection to Peru’s pinnacle, Machu Picchu. On one of the highest rail routes in the world, the Belmond Andean Explorer (belmond.com) plots a vertiginous course from Arequipa to Cuzco (both World Heritage-listed cities) on one- and two-night itineraries.
Japan is known for its super-fast trains but Shiki-shima (jreast.co.jp) is an entirely different beast, encouraging you to savour the journey rather than speedily arrive at your destination. Eschewing olde-worlde looks and going futuristic, the boutique sleeper train undertakes two- to four-day trips, including one from Tokyo to the island of Hokkaido in the north.
Murder mysteries, fur stoles and flapper types clutching overflowing coupes of champagne – the OrientExpress is synonymous with intrigue and glamour. The original OrientExpress ceased operations in 2009; now Belmond (belmond.com) runs several high-end services along the line, including the original Paris-toIstanbul route. The five-night trip departs just once a year and is as opulent as it was in its 1930s heyday. For the 14 greatest rail journeys in the world, go to travelinsider.qantas.com.au.
(Clockwise from top) The Belmond Andean Explorer; the Art Deco interior of the Venice Simplon- Orient-Express; the Rocky Mountaineer