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Keeping Track

On the rails............................(3251.jpg) Flying past Mount Fuji

When I was really young, the high-speed rail service between Edinburgh and London was launched. The rail track was across a big field from our house in Scotland, and when the train first started its journey we were all transfixed. It would swoosh past the back garden in a blaze of yellow and blue, like something from another world, way faster and way sleeker than its clunky predecessor. Today, the high-speed train doesn't seem quite as futuristic as it used to, but I still find train travel exciting. Not in the trainspottery sense, but in the leave-your-car-at-home-and-take-it-slowly kind of way.

On the rails............................(3256.jpg) Getting away from it all

Bullet-fast trains like the French TGV and the Japanese Shinkansen. Slow, regal carriages like India's Palace on Wheels and the Orient-Express. Or epic journeys like Russia's Trans-Siberian Express.

We've featured many rail journeys on Been-Seen, and here are just
a few:

The Lhasa Express – Launched in 2006, this train travels between Beijing and Tibet's holiest city, Lhasa, high in the Himalayas.
It covers a huge chunk of China, 2525 miles to be precise, and does it in 48 hours.

On the rails............................(3252.jpg) Enjoy the view

The Glacier Express – This elegant Swiss mountain railway takes passengers back and forth between St. Moritz in the north and Zermatt in the south – very slowly. It takes 7½ hours, traveling at about 22 miles per hour, through the Alps. Best to leave your impatience at home and enjoy the stunning views.

The Chiva Express – This is a quirky little South American bus that's been converted into a train and runs on rails through Ecuador, from Quito to Guayaquil. Colorful and one-of-a-kind, it offers fantastic views of the Andes and the coastal lowlands.

On the rails............................(3255.jpg) Take it slowly

The Macondo Express – This train service connects the Colombian mountain town of Aracataca to the resort of Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.

Oslo to Bergen – This action-packed journey takes in all the wonders of Norwegian countryside, from fjords to glaciers, gorges and ravines. The real draw? You can't get there by car. This route is only accessible by train – unless of course you feel like walking it. But that's a different form of travel altogether…

Here are a few other great trains
we haven't covered yet.

On the rails............................(3254.jpg)

Unadulterated luxury

The Shinkansen – Japan's famously speedy train network opened 40 years ago and has carried over 6 billion passengers at up to 300 kilometers per hour since then. It's punctual, reliable (it has never had a major accident) and looks great too. It's called the bullet train for good reason – faster than a speeding bullet and all that.

The Palace on Wheels – This
Indian train invites you to travel like a Maharajah, in sheer luxury through Rajasthan and the rest
of the country. Various tours are available and all sound positively idyllic. Being waited on hand and foot can't be bad, after all…

On the rails............................(3253.jpg) Rent your own

The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express – It wouldn't be right to leave out the grand-daddy of all trains, the vehicle that inspired Agatha Christie. If you're into trains, it's probably the one you should travel on, just to say you have. It still criss-crosses Europe, offering a wide variety of tours, all drenched in glamor.

And if those don't sound quite right, why not plan your own rail journey? The American Association of Railroad Car Owners offer all kinds of cool vintage trains for rental, mostly on designated routes, but occasionally they let you wander off the beaten track a little. As long as there is a track, that is. RM

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