The World's 25 Best Trains
What does Europe's very dignified grande dame, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, have in common with India's wheezing, narrow-gauge geezer, the 100-year-old steam" Toy Train"?
They're both members of a select group; namely, "The World's Top 25 trains," as determined by The Society of International Railway Travelers.® The Society is a fellowship of intelligent, experienced travelers who prefer the comfort, romance and fun of going by first-class trains worldwide.
Some trains on the list are over-the-top luxury, such as Rovos Rail's Pride of Africa. Others are the most stylish and comfortable way to see remote regions, such the Trans-Siberian Express, which offers sweeping itineraries in Russia and beyond.
Following, in geographical order, are the winning trains and principal countries or areas of operation:
The World's Top 25 Trains, by The Society of International Railway Travelers®
1) Canadian (Canada)
2) GrandLuxe Express (US)
3) Canadian Rockies Steam Express (Canada)
4) Rocky Mountaineer (Canada)
5) Royal Canadian Pacific (Canada)
6) Sierra Madre Express (Mexico)
7) Andean Explorer (Peru)
8) Hiram Bingham (Peru)
9) Blue Train (South Africa)
10) Pride of Africa (Rovos Rail) (South Africa)
11) Palace on Wheels (India)
12) Eastern & Oriental Express (SE Asia)
13) Shangri-La Express (China/Tibet)
14) Toy Train (India)
15) Viceroy of India (India)
16) Northern Belle (United Kingdom)
17) Royal Scotsman (Scotland)
18) Bernina Express (Switzerland)
19) Glacier Express (Switzerland)
20) El Transcantabrico (Spain)
21) Trans-Siberian Express (Russia, Ukraine)
22) Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Europe)
23) Ghan (Australia)
24) Indian Pacific (Australia)
25) Sunlander (Australia)
The choices are a compilation of opinions of members, editors and the publisher of the Society's magazine The International Railway Traveler® (IRT). The selections were announced in a first-ever Special Edition of the magazine entitled The IRT Society's Best-Loved Railway Journeys -- 2007. The last time the Society published ratings of rail experiences was in 1999.
"The trains had to meet stringent standards for service, accommodation, scenery, itinerary, off-train experiences and passenger enjoyment," said Society CEO & Publisher, Owen C. Hardy. With a few exceptions, the top trains are privately owned and operated, offering "rail cruises" on which passengers can spend the night on board.
The IRT Society's Best-Loved Railway Journeys -- 2007 includes complete descriptions of each of the "Top 25" trains: their compartments and public spaces, equipment used and preferred routes. The cover price is $25, but the publication is available free of charge through March 31 for inquiries made directly to the IRT Society office.
The Society is a membership organization whose benefits include an annual subscription to IRT. Regular annual U.S. membership dues are $69 ($79 for Canada; $89 elsewhere). To join, contact The Society of International Railway Travelers®, 2010 Edgeland Ave. #100, Louisville, KY 40204; telephone (502) 454-0277 or, outside Kentucky, (800) 478-4881; fax (502) 458-2250.
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