Ride the rails – Worldwide

Ride the rails – Worldwide

Forget the morning commute: the romance of the rails is alive and well, and is the perfect way to watch the world go by

India has some of the best train journeys, at both ends of the scale: from the utter opulence of the Maharajas' Express (www.the-maharajas.com) - which offers butler service and cocktails in the dining car -
to the colourfully chaotic 63,000km Indian Railways network, guaranteed to be an unforgettable journey whichever segment you ride.

South Africa (www.bluetrain.co.za), Australia (www.greatsouthernrail.com.au) and South-East Asia (www.orient-express.com) all have classy rides, but Mark Smith, train expert and mastermind behind the excellent seat61.com, reckons there's a clear winner.

"If money is no object, the vintage Wagons-Lits of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (pictured; www.orient-express.com) are the carriages to go for. Romantic? I confess I doubted any 24-hour train ride could be worth over £1,500 per person, but taking my then-girlfriend on her first trip to Italy, the train worked its special magic and, totally unplanned, we arrived in Verona engaged. Come to think of it, I still don't know whether we got engaged in Austria or Italy... If money is tighter, stick with Britain's most romantic train and book a cosy two-bed sleeper on the London to Ft William Caledonian Sleeper (www.scotrail.co.uk), waking up to a cup of coffee and the breathtaking West Highlands."

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