Journey by Train on Forgotten Railroads

In an age where air travel and high-speed trains dominate, the slower pace and nostalgic charm of forgotten railroads offer a unique and captivating way to explore. These hidden gems of the rail world take you through picturesque landscapes, quaint towns, and historic routes that tell stories of a bygone era. Join us on a journey through some of the most intriguing forgotten railroads, where the journey is just as enchanting as the destination.

The Allure of Forgotten Railroads

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, USA: A Wild West Adventure

Step back in time to the era of the Wild West with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado. This historic steam train has been in operation since 1882 and takes passengers on a scenic journey through the San Juan Mountains. The 45-mile route winds along the Animas River, offering breathtaking views of rugged canyons and dense forests. Highlights include the picturesque town of Silverton, where you can explore its preserved 19th-century buildings and learn about its mining history.

The West Highland Line, Scotland: Highland Splendor

The West Highland Line in Scotland is renowned for its stunning scenery and historic significance. This rail route, which opened in the late 19th century, takes you from Glasgow to the fishing port of Mallaig. Along the way, you’ll traverse the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films, and pass through the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor. The journey offers panoramic views of lochs, mountains, and glens, making it a photographer’s dream.

The Eastern & Oriental Express, Southeast Asia: Luxurious Nostalgia

For a taste of luxury and nostalgia, the Eastern & Oriental Express offers an unforgettable journey through Southeast Asia. This elegant train travels between Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, evoking the glamour of 1920s rail travel. The route includes stops at historic cities and cultural landmarks, such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and the River Kwai. Onboard, passengers enjoy gourmet dining, luxurious cabins, and impeccable service, all while taking in the ever-changing scenery of tropical landscapes and bustling cities.

Hidden Gems and Scenic Routes

The Flåm Railway, Norway: A Scenic Marvel

The Flåm Railway is a hidden gem in the heart of Norway, offering one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. This 20-kilometer (12-mile) route takes you from the mountain station of Myrdal down to the village of Flåm, nestled in the Aurlandsfjord. The train descends nearly 900 meters (3,000 feet) through steep mountainsides, passing cascading waterfalls, lush valleys, and quaint farms. The breathtaking views and engineering marvels, such as the Kjosfossen Waterfall, make this a must-visit for rail enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The Ghan, Australia: Crossing the Outback

The Ghan offers an epic journey through the heart of Australia, from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. This legendary train traverses the vast Outback, covering 2,979 kilometers (1,851 miles) and providing a unique perspective on Australia’s diverse landscapes. Passengers can enjoy off-train excursions to iconic sites such as Alice Springs, Uluru, and Katherine Gorge. The Ghan’s luxurious cabins, fine dining, and immersive experiences make it a standout rail adventure.

The Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia: A Journey Across Continents

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the epitome of epic rail journeys, stretching over 9,288 kilometers (5,772 miles) from Moscow to Vladivostok. This historic route, completed in 1916, takes travelers across eight time zones, offering a unique glimpse into Russia’s vast and varied landscapes. Highlights include the Ural Mountains, Lake Baikal (the world’s deepest freshwater lake), and the remote Siberian wilderness. The journey provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience the culture, history, and natural beauty of Russia.

Historical Routes and Heritage Trains

The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland: A Ride Through History

The Jacobite Steam Train offers a nostalgic journey through the Scottish Highlands, following the same route as the West Highland Line. This heritage train, pulled by a vintage steam locomotive, travels from Fort William to Mallaig, passing iconic landmarks such as Ben Nevis and Loch Morar. The train’s classic carriages and scenic vistas make it a favorite among history buffs and Harry Potter fans alike.

The Rovos Rail, South Africa: Luxury and Safari

Rovos Rail offers luxurious train journeys through South Africa, combining the elegance of vintage rail travel with modern comforts. The routes include scenic journeys from Pretoria to Cape Town, Durban, and Victoria Falls. Passengers can enjoy gourmet dining, opulent suites, and off-train excursions to game reserves, historic sites, and picturesque landscapes. Rovos Rail provides an unparalleled blend of adventure, luxury, and history.

The Glacier Express, Switzerland: Alpine Beauty

The Glacier Express is renowned for its stunning alpine scenery, connecting the mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz. This eight-hour journey takes you through the Swiss Alps, crossing 291 bridges and passing through 91 tunnels. Highlights include the Landwasser Viaduct, the Oberalp Pass, and the Rhine Gorge, often referred to as the “Swiss Grand Canyon.” The Glacier Express offers panoramic windows, comfortable seating, and gourmet meals, making it a quintessential rail experience in Switzerland.

Tips for Planning Your Rail Adventure

Book in Advance

Many of these forgotten railroads and heritage trains are popular and can sell out quickly, especially during peak travel seasons. Booking in advance ensures you secure a spot on your desired route.

Pack Smart

Pack light but bring essentials such as comfortable clothing, a camera, and any necessary travel documents. Consider bringing a good book or journal to document your journey.

Embrace the Journey

The charm of forgotten railroads lies in the journey itself. Take the time to relax, enjoy the scenery, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the places you pass through.

Conclusion: Rediscover the Magic of Train Travel

Journeying on forgotten railroads offers a unique and nostalgic way to explore the world. From the rugged landscapes of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express, these rail adventures provide a window into the past and a chance to experience the beauty of slow travel. So, hop aboard, and let the rhythmic clatter of the tracks guide you through a memorable journey on these enchanting forgotten railroads.