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JLeslie's avatar

What have been your favorite train travels?

Asked by JLeslie (59519points) April 8th, 2012

I love riding the train. I’m curious to know about all sorts of train trips. Maybe you enjoyed it because it was very scenic? Or, you made two or three stops on the journey to your final destination? Or, the train itself was very special, special quarters, special dining? Or, even a great deal, an inexpensive route that makes a train trip better than the drive or flight.

I thought of this because Memphis to New Orleans is usually just $50 one way, $100 round trip. It’s about an 8 hour trip. I hope to do it one day, I have never been to New Orleans. Also, the train that goes North into Upstate NY or New England is appealling to me. But, I would want to stop in several places along the route, not sure how realistic that is? Might be better by car? I have also heard great stories of the train from Vancouver through the Rockies to Banff.

So, tell me your train story, anywhere in the world.

Thanks ahead of time.

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21 Answers

digitalimpression's avatar

My favorite train rides (and there haven’t been many) happened when I made the attempt to shed the stressful environment of the military lifestyle and escape from Waukegan to big city Chicago. I would get up very early (which is why I almost always went alone.. I couldn’t convince anyone else to get up on a weekend and go do something) and go wander the streets. I would marvel at the street performers, admire the different art (or attempts at art) displayed around the city, and purchase things which I didn’t need. But I’m getting off topic.

The train trip itself was relaxing and took about an hour if I remember right. The scenery wasn’t great, but it was the idea of the trip that was most pleasant. I was escaping! For one day I was going to be a civilian… one of a number instead of being a number.

I’ll never forget an interaction (if it can be called that) with a girl on the train. I was on the uppderdeck of the train and she on the bottom. She was beautiful and I couldn’t help staring. Now, I was a quiet fellow back then so this next part really meant something (at least to me): I decided I would talk to her when we arrived in Chicago. I would find out what was going on in her life, maybe spend the day in Chicago with her if we hit it off. Upon arrival in Chicago I noticed her exit the train station and the door closed behind her. I hurried my step a bit to catch up.. I had to meet her. When I got to the door and opened it she was gone. I’ve no idea what corner she went around but… in retrospect she probably thought I was stalking her or something.. It was, after all, the big city.. not the quiet, friendly town where I grew up. Being young and impressionable as I was it put a bit of a damper on the whole day. I roamed the city feeling melancholy.. feeling as if I’d missed a connection that would never again present itself. I’ve never once been back to Chicago.. and that train ride home was dark and dull.

Call it what you will. I was a different person back then.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I rode trains often in Japan. It’s the common mode of transportation. I took a night train from Tokyo to Fukuoka once. It was blissful. The motion of the train rocked me to sleep, and I awoke at the destination refreshed. That’s just one of many trips.

wilma's avatar

Anchorage to Denali, magnificent!

john65pennington's avatar

Jamaica. Yep, they have a train in Jamaica.

It’s a great scenic train ride of the island. Halfway through the trip, you stop and islanders take your measurements for any shirt or other clothing you want to purchase. Your selection is ready, once the train starts back down.

Also, very interesting, in the middle of Jamaica is their prison. The inmates are free to walk in a certain area and any attempt at escaping, is death. The prison dorms are caves in the side of the mountain. Very simple, but it works for them.

Train trip cost about $8.00 dollars and well worth it. They stop several times to sample the islands fruits being grown there. My favorite was breadfruit. It’s grown on trees the size of a softball. It is poisionous, unless it is cooked to a certain temperature. It tastes just like freshly baked bread out of the oven. That was a fantastic vacation and I am ready to go again.

Kardamom's avatar

I too love trains, especially because I don’t fly. I have not been on many train trips, though, but I would love to take one of those trips that goes east to west across either the northern US or part of Canada, through mountains and forested areas, especially if there was some snow. I love the idea of riding in a sleeper car.

The niftiest train trip I ever took, was a ride on an open, old-fashioned narrow gauge train that went from Durango Colorado to Silverton. You ride on a track that runs through the mountains, with thick forestation all around, and parts of it, you are literally hugging the side of a cliff that is about 100 ft. above a river that runs along the same course as the train tracks. It was breathtaking. Then you end up in this little town called Silverton which is like taking a step back in time to the mid to late 1800’s cowboy era. You can check out that train trip here

The_Idler's avatar

I went to Turin by train. I’d seen the scenery between Northampton and London and Paris many times, but when we got down to the French-Italian border, near Switzerland, the scenery varied and interesting. Coming in and out of mountains, skirting Alpine lakes, spotting castles. The little towns looked very nice too.

The Trans-Pennine Express from Sheffield to Manchester also has great scenery.

I regularly ride down the East-Midlands Mainline, from Sheffield to Market Harborough, and the scenery in Derbyshire is quite pleasant, though it’s only about ¼ of the journey.

I’ve heard Scotland has some great train-scenery.

My journey from Guilin to Shanghai by sleeper was probably the coolest train journey. The bed was comfortable (I went with the cheapest bed ticket), and the coaches were really sociable (I’m in a top bunk, shooting down the aisle. My neighbour’s feet are visible in the bottom-right of the pic); I played cards with some old Chinese men (we couldn’t speak to each other, but it was fun), and helped a kid practise his English. The restaurant car served fairly good food at reasonable prices (stark contrast to English trains… and no that white guy isn’t me), although the drinks menu consisted only of water (served at 85°F) or beer (served at 85°F).

There were also some very nice views.

Another cool thing was that there was free hot water in every carriage, so you could make your own tea (which the Chinese consume in vast quantities whenever travelling), or instant noodle meals, which on-board vendors sold from carts.

When I got to Shanghai, I went on the Maglev service to the airport (and back again, I just wanted to see it). It’s fast. REALLY FAST. Yeah, that’s about 270 mph. That was cool, because there’s basically no rumbling, vibration or sound, there being far less moving parts than an ordinary train.

Because I wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur, I didn’t take the “Jungle Line”, which apparently is very peculiar and scenic. Nevertheless, the train journey from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore still had some pretty cool bits.

My original plan was to go from Hong Kong to Beijing, to Singapore, all by train, but I ended up having to get a few buses. Which really made me appreciate the comfort and spaciousness of trains. (That’s one of the accursed buses. You can see how squashed in my body is…)

The_Idler's avatar

For anyone else considering globe-trotting by train, Seat61 is a useful and comprehensive reference.

Trillian's avatar

I love trains. Most recently I rode from Oregon to Kentucky. Five days. I got some fantastic photos, and the motion of the train always lets me sleep very well. Except the bit where there seemed to be a sheer drop off on one side in northern CA. I looked DOWN at the tops of trees. It was at once pants-wettingly terrifying and exhilarating. I could NOT unclench enough to get a photo.
I plan to take the north America tour, which travels through Canada and the US, in the fall at some point. I understand that there is also a trip out west which is akin to the Orient express which I would like to take.

Coloma's avatar

A 2–3 hour trip across the island of Taiwan, from Taipei city south along the island to Hualien a small coastal village known for their Sunfish and beaches covered in jade and marble pebbles polished by the mighty Pacific. We then drove 2 more hours up into the high mountains of Toroko gorge to see the marble mountains and the amazing aqua green Liwu river.

Other than having to pee in chinese toilets on moving trains the scenery and local culture was just wonderful!

Kardamom's avatar

Now I’m having a strange desire for a Nanny TV Show themed train ride, thanks to @The_Idler mentioning the name Sheffield

Sorry I just couldn’t resist

WestRiverrat's avatar

I concur with @wilma but I went from Denali to Anchorage.

Coloma's avatar

I want to take a train trip to Utah. :-)

Coloma's avatar

Haha, this Q. has reminded me I want to get out all my cool rocks I collected in Asia and put them in a water fountain on my deck. Hey, Colomas project today! :-)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Cologne to Frankfurt at 275 kph.

gondwanalon's avatar

I’ve only ridden trains a few times. Amtrak from Portland Oregon to Tacoma Washington was nice with spectacular views of Puget Sound. I enjoyed that.

The worse (and last) train trip that I made was from Budapest Hungary to and from Ploiesti Romania (2005). The fares were way over priced (cheaper to fly) and the trains were over crowded, very old and dilapidated with no ventilation (cooling or heating). Also the toilets emptied onto the tracks. Also smoking was allowed on the train and it seemed like about everyone on board smoked non-stop. Also the train stations in Romania were loaded with rude begging children. It was brutal.

flutherother's avatar

My favourite train journey is the West Highland Line which runs from Glasgow up the west coast of Scotland. It takes about six hours and is unmatched for beauty and varied scenery. I love almost every moment of that journey. The train window is like a moving painting but the scenery is real and very historic in places.

I like crossing Rannoch Moor which is desolate and without a road and seeing the distant hills of Glencoe on the horizon. I like the little stations unchanged since Victorian times where people in climbing gear get on and off and I like the view of the islands of Eigg and Muck and Rhum as the train travels north to the fishing port of Mallaig.

At Mallaig the railway comes to an end. You have time to step out and feel the clean sea breezes upon your face and wonder at the mountains and the water that surround you. And if you are lucky and have time you can take the boat to Skye.

DaphneT's avatar

My first trip was sometime in the1990’s and I caught the train from Connecticut to home, via Boston, Albany, Chicago etc. It was one of the last old-style cars and I thought it had a lovely, large, ladies room. I found I could read on the train and that was something different, since I’m prone to motion sickness. Amtrak discontinued those cars by the time I took my next trip. That made me sad. The newer cars aren’t as comfortable and rock more so reading is more of an issue.

I’ve enjoyed the train from Boston to New York, Boston to D.C., New York to Chicago, Chicago to Seattle, Chicago to L.A. I’ve wanted to take it to New Orleans, then to Florida, but that’s been discontinued because of hurricane wash outs. Sad again.

I thought the service staff on the trains had the best jobs and I was absolutely impressed with how well they did their jobs and made me feel comfortable. I’ll probably never travel the rails again, since the U.S seems hell-bent on disabling long-distance passenger train services by the time I again have enough money for that long a vacation.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks so much everyone. I hope we still get more answers. I really enjoyed this Q.

Harold's avatar

Ollantaytambo to Macchu Pichu in Peru; West Coast wilderness railway from Queenstown to Strahan in Tasmania; Hyderabad to Vishakapatnam in India.

Earthgirl's avatar

I just want to say that I don’t understand what John Rocker has against the Flushing line 7 train. I think it’s so scenic! Man, I wish I could ride that train every day.

At least it looks way better than it did in Jay Gatsby’s day, when he talks about the “ash heaps” this is where they were, Flushing Meadows. Kind of an ironic name, huh?

From a 1937 article in The New York Times about preparing the site in Queens, New York for the 1939 World’s Fair:
Quote:
The ash heaps towered as high as 90 feet above the earth before the city picked the Flushing park meadows as the site for the fair. The place was just a swampy dump heap then, with the neighbors complaining of dog-sized rats and mosquitos with pneumatic drill stingers.”

OpryLeigh's avatar

I love travelling by train too. Usually I only get the train to and from London but would love to take a train through the mountains somewhere. I would also love to travel on a sleeper train at some point. The idea of falling asleep in a bed, on a train sounds lovely to me.

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