Speed or scenery, history or luxury – whatever kind of railway adventure you’re looking for, you are bound to find a train that suits you.
Food and drink: Napa Valley Wine Train
Route: Napa to St Helena to Napa, California
Travelling between cellar doors in one of America’s most celebrated wine regions doesn’t have to mean getting behind the wheel, thanks to the beautifully restored vintage railcars of the Napa Valley Wine Train. Chugging along a 58km circular route with sun-kissed vines as a backdrop, the journey sees guests enjoy a three-course lunch or dinner as well as a tutored zinfandel tasting session, in addition to stops for winery visits where a host of delicious varietals await.
Speed: Shinkansen Nozomi
Route: Tokyo to Osaka, Japan
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in October 2014, the ‘bullet train’ between Tokyo and Osaka continues to get faster and faster thanks to the introduction of the super high-speed Nozomi service, which shaved 1.5 hours off the journey time (it now takes just 2.5 hours). Grab a bento box from the vendors at Tokyo Station and settle into your plush surrounds – you’ll have more legroom than on most first-class plane seats – as the train reaches dizzying speeds of 270km/h.
Local experience: Manakara Express
Manakara to Fianarantsoa: Madagascar
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And nowhere is this more true than on the French colonial-era railway that trundles from Manakara on the southeast coast of Madagascar to the highland city of Fianarantsoa. In fact, the 140km journey takes 16 hours on a good day. Make like the locals and pack plenty of provisions and settle in for a fascinating glimpse into life in the tropical island while passing steep mountain gorges and lush rainforest.