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100 things to do before you die: train

Thursday, August 24, 2006

95. Orient Express The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has a colourful history. It has been bombed, shot at and marooned in snow drifts.

The long-distance train began its journey in 1883 when it linked Paris with Constantinople. Aristocrats, film stars and royalty rode Europe's most expensive train.

Each carriage has separate sleeping compartments and a steward on permanent duty. Dress code rules must be observed — it is said you can never be over-dressed on the Orient Express.

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96. Rocky mountaineer What a wonderful way to see the beauty of Canada. This train runs east and west between Vancouver and Alberta passing through five mountain ranges, two provinces, six major river systems and five national parks.

The journey is around 1000 kilometres and because it travels only in daylight, you won't miss any scenery. Glass domes allow you to get the best photographs.

There are three classes of travel with attendants on call throughout the trip — GoldLeaf, SilverLeaf and Signature.

97. Lunatic Express This train is an overnight service between Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. In the 1890s the British decided to build the link, but because of the cost and madness of attempting to lay 1000 kilometres of track across desert, swamp and the seemingly impassable Rift Valley, critics gave it the name Lunatic Express.

Tourists are permitted to travel in first or second class only. First class compartments are comfortable with a small wash basin and settee which turns into a sleeping berth. Second class compartments have four berths.

98. TranzAlpine Express, New Zealand The TranzAlpine crosses New Zealand's south island between Christchurch and Greymouth, across the Canterbury Plains, farmlands, gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.

Scenery is superb, taking in lush beech rainforest, across five viaducts and through 16 tunnels. There are short stops along the way and an open viewing car allows uninterrupted photography.

99. Ecuador train The Devil's Nose starts in the modest town of Riobamba, high in the Andes. A ride on the trans-Andean is exhilarating. People travel inside the carriages or on the roof, hanging on for grim death.

Track laying began in 1899 and was a monumental feat, crossing desert, rainforests, bridged rivers and perpendicular rock walls more than 3000 metres above sea level. It reached Quito in 1908. It was then a steam train, but now runs with a French diesel engine.

100. Indian Pacific The Indian Pacific runs between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide and the Nullarbor. It lets passengers see parts of Australia rarely seen on its 4352-kilometre adventure. It has an average of 17 cars with an average speed of 80kmh.

There are three classes and the dining car is very sociable. You may need to take some entertainment along, as the 458-kilometre Nullarbor stretch may become a little tedious.

95. Orient Express

96. Rocky Mountain train
Adventure World
Ph: (02) 8913 0577

97. "Lunatic Express"
Africa Travel Centre
Ph: (02) 267 3048, 1800 622984

98. TranzAlpine
Ph: 0011 64 4 495 0775
Fax: 0011 64 4 472 89(03)

99. Ecuador train
World Expeditions
Ph: 1300 720 000
Fax: (02) 9279 0566

100. Indian Pacific
National Rail Reservations
Ph: 13 22 32


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