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Tim Richards
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Rail Travel

(Note: I have two rail travel books out! Heading South, about an epic round-Australia rail journey, published by Fremantle Press - find details here; and Ultimate Train Journeys: World, published by Hardie Grant. Follow me or the publishers on social media for updates.)

The ride stuff
Traveller, 10 March 2024

"'We all did justice to the good things, and as we washed them down with bumpers of sparkling Krug whilst we sped along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, agreed it was the fastest living we had ever experienced. Then to bed in luxurious couches, where we slept the sleep of the just.' In June 1869, the New York Times correspondent 'WS' was living it high on the rails as he rode westward from Nebraska to California on the first trans-American railway. However, long-distance rail travel across America is not always so pleasing over 150 years later..."

Detailing the pluses and minuses of travelling via Amtrak trains across the USA

[Read the full article here]

We'll pass, thanks
Traveller, 9 March 2024

"Ah, the joys of travelling across Europe by rail with a Eurail pass! Hopping aboard regional services without any need of a separate ticket, and using sleeper trains as a substitute for hotel rooms. There’s nothing more fun than a rail pass, but many Australians will be surprised to learn that it’s possible to travel that way in our own eastern states. Here’s how..."

Explaining the rail passes and fare caps available in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

On the right track: History on wheels as 'hoods revealed
Explore, 5 February 2024

"'Please be careful of the pebble-stone paving,' says our guide Nuno, as we wait to board a bright-yellow tram. Welcome to Lisbon. If there's anything more symbolic of the Portuguese capital than its crazy paving and its compact timber-framed trams, I can't imagine what it is. No, wait, it's the decorative tiles on the walls of its buildings, which I'll be seeing plenty of today. For I'm joining the Beyond the Tram No. 28 tour, which uses those trams as a delivery vehicle to the historic Graca district..."

Investigating heritage neighbourhoods of Lisbon, Portugal, via tram and on foot

[Read the full article here]

This heritage sleeper train will take you from Melbourne to wine time
Traveller, 23 January 2024

"I’m standing on an overgrown platform at the unlikely sounding locality of Muckleford, watching a train glide past. First come three chunky locomotives (“Y-class” for the technically minded), then a varied collection of heritage sleeper carriages, a lounge car, and a dining car. This, in total, is the Winelander – the moving heart of a rail cruise staged by 707 Operations, the latest in its series of weekend train expeditions out of Melbourne..."

Catching a heritage train to the goldfields region of Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Ban bucket lists: What the experts want from travel in 2024 (section about train travel)
Traveller, 6 January 2024

"My new year travel resolution is to continue avoiding air travel wherever a practical surface alternative is available. Though I have to leave Australia by air, I’m trying to stick to trains and ferries in other continents – which has proven to be a great pleasure in Europe and North America..."

Contributing a section concerning rail travel to an article about travel in 2024

[Read the full article here]

Rate expectations (five items)
Traveller, 16 December 2023

"Forget taxis and Ubers – who wants to be stuck in traffic when there’s a fascinating city outside, waiting to be experienced? In a destination with an underground railway/Metro system, join the locals zipping around below ground. You’ll be a fly on the wall, catching snippets of conversations and being part of urban life as your travelling companions head to work, home and entertainment. You’ll also save money and cut carbon emissions at the same time..."

Contributing five instances to an article about overrated and underrated travel experiences
(including three about rail travel in Europe).

[Read the full article here]

Transcontinental gems
Journey Beyond, 7 December 2023

"Standing at the end of Busselton (Undalup) Jetty provides me with a lesson in nature. The view over Geographe Bay is humbling – the expanse of water is a nod to the sheer force of nature, and you can’t help but feel introspective when looking out. The 1.8-kilometre structure I’m standing on – loved by the township – is one of the many highlights on the epic eight-day Gems of the South West holiday package. It's is a sparkling example of why this trip across the country is so special..."

Describing a tour combining the southwest corner of Western Australia with a ride aboard the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Sleeper trains are making a comeback. Why are ours being axed?
Traveller, 27 November 2023

"Come with me on a magical journey between Sydney and Melbourne. No, not via the airport… but starting at Sydney’s Central Station, aboard a newly refurbished all-sleeper night train. I’ve already checked in and spent time relaxing in the comfortable new lounge dedicated to sleeper passengers: enjoying a complimentary drink and using the Wi-Fi. Now, after stepping on board, I use a keycard to open my compartment, shove my backpack in the storage space, then head for the bar..."

Imagining what sleeper trains could be like, as they face cancellation between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia

[Read the full article here]

The ultimate guide to getting around Melbourne
Lonely Planet, 22 November 2023

"As a progressive metropolis that regularly tops rankings of the world’s most livable cities, you might expect Melbourne to be a breeze to navigate – and you wouldn’t be wrong. Although Greater Melbourne is a sprawl that can take hours to cross without a car, most major attractions are concentrated in the city center and its surrounding neighborhoods. This part of the city is well-serviced by public transportation, including the world’s longest tram network..."

Exploring the wide range of transport options (including trams and trains) in Melbourne, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Best moments in travel 2023 (four items)
Traveller, 19 November 2023

"Somewhere on my second train from Milan to Verona, while idly eating a pastry from the complimentary business class lunchbox, I glance out the window and observe we’re travelling alongside a busy major road. Though its traffic is flowing freely, I note with satisfaction that we’re passing every single vehicle with ease, though our ride is so smooth that it’s hard to gauge our velocity. Forget la dolce vita, I’m living la vita veloce (the fast life)..."

Describing four perfect moments: including one on a fast train in Italy, and one aboard a train in Queensland, Australia

[Read the Europe item here, and the Australia item here]

All aboard
Paradise, November 2023

"Glancing up from my seat aboard the Spirit of Queensland, I can see history through the windows. Landsborough Station is a classic timber railway station, and beyond it is a lovely old pub. Nearby is a neat row of Queenslanders, the traditional colonial-era houses that stand on stumps above termites and floodwater. Inside this train, however, it’s the future. For the Spirit of Queensland is not your old-fashioned sleeper train with separate compartments and bunk beds..."

Taking the Spirit of Queensland sleeper train all the way north from Brisbane to Cairns in Queensland, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Australia’s third great train journey is an epic cruise on wheels
Traveller, 7 October 2023

"Not that we have the Ancient Mariner’s other problem to contend with. There are plenty of drops to drink aboard this very long train, some of them from the Adelaide Hills through which we passed earlier. For the Great Southern is – like its sister trains, The Ghan and the Indian Pacific – an all-inclusive “rail cruise” which includes in its substantial fare all meals, drinks and excursions, as well as transport and accommodation. The day began at Adelaide Parklands Terminal with our train comprising two locomotives pulling 26 carriages at a total length of 663 metres..."

Taking a luxury rail cruise between Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Continental drift
Traveller, 13 August 2023

"It’s my last night in Lisbon, and I’m immersed in that most Portuguese of musical styles: fado. On a small stage in a back room are two male guitarists with soulful looks and a woman with a fine voice, performing songs whose tones speak of melancholy, loss, and longing. Which seems appropriate, as I’d longed for a return to European travel through the pandemic. And tomorrow I’ll be boarding the first of twenty trains which will bear me all the way to distant Serbia..."

Travelling by rail via a Eurail pass,
across Southern Europe from Portugal to Serbia.

[Read the full article here]

Empire games
Traveller, 16 July 2023

"My epic rail trek across seven US states began illustriously at Seattle’s marvellous King Street Station. Resembling an opera house with gleaming white interiors, this 1906 edifice was a hugely confident statement in the railways and the wealth and prestige they brought to the Pacific Northwest. Running north then east, the Empire Builder must forge its way through the coastal Cascade Mountains before tackling a bigger challenge, the Rocky Mountains..."

Riding Amtrak's Empire Builder train all the way from Seattle to Chicago, USA.

[Read the full article here]

High rolling: The world's best scenic train journeys
The Post, 9 June 2023

"Slow travel is all about savouring the culture and landscapes of a destination, rather than rushing through it - and what better way to do so than aboard a train? With these eight trains, I outline some options for a luxurious life on the rails..."

Describing eight luxury trains from across the world, including Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia

[Read the full article here]

Taking a fall
Traveller, 7 May 2023

"To the west of Toronto, bounded by three of the Great Lakes, lies a triangle of territory known as the Ontario Peninsula. Part commuter country and part farmland, it’s dotted with fascinating places within a train ride of Canada’s largest city – including these three..."

Taking trains to explore diverse attractions in the Ontario Peninsula region of Canada.

[Read the full article here]

A Food-tasting Day Trip from Melbourne by Train
Traveller, 18 January 2023

"My wife Narrelle and I have just made the unexpectedly steep hike up from Bunyip railway station to the town's main street, and I'm enjoying the fresh country air. The climb has been worth it for the view, as we look south across the tracks toward sporting fields, gum trees and grazing cows, and the hills beyond them. We reached Bunyip on a train, and as V/Line's country trains use the same Myki card as the city's public transport, it's easy to head here for a DIY food-tasting day trip..."

Enjoying the food and drink delights of West Gippsland, Australia, by train

[Read the full article here]

Number 96 Tram: This One Route Gives You the Best of the City
Traveller, 13 October 2022

"Slabs of pan-fried brioche lean against each other on a bed of wilted kale, circled by toasted hazelnuts and blobs of chilli jam. It's a delicious contrast of flavours and textures – and that's a description which could apply to the 96 tram route which runs past the restaurant. Starting from St Kilda, it snakes through the Melbourne CBD to end in East Brunswick. Passing many attractions, it's the city's most involving tram trip, offering a sample of everything Melbourne along the way..."

Taking a fabled tram route from end to end in Melbourne, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Grainlander Steam Train to an Outback Art Highlight
Traveller, 23 September 2022

"It's not every day you meet the model for one of the mighty murals painted on former grain silos in western Victoria. It's even less likely when it's a dog. But here I am in tiny Nullawil (population 92) in the Wimmera-Mallee region, and the kelpie who's depicted in enormous size upon the local silo is sitting obediently below it, next to a model of both the silos and a steam train. If that sounds complicated, get this – there's also a real steam train standing below the silo, and that's how I've arrived here from Melbourne..."

Catching a steam train on a rail tour to regional Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

The Ups and Downs of the Cairns Rainforest
Stuff, 21 August 2022

"What goes up must come down, they say, but in Cairns this comes with options. There are two memorable ways to head upward into the beautiful tropical rainforest of the mountain ranges west of the city. An old favourite, the Kuranda Scenic Railway train, creaks and sways its way through dense foliage as it makes its way to or from the tourist town of Kuranda. Further north, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway conveys visitors above the tree canopy and waterways as its gondolas head over the slopes, also connecting to Kuranda. Which to choose?"

Experiencing nature by by cable car and train from Cairns, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Grains, Trains and a Stack of Fine Art Soaring into the Sky
Senior Traveller, August 2022

"Melbourne's busy Southern Cross Station is a railway terminus with a thoroughly 21st century appearance, its high roof undulating like a pod of blue whales. So it's quite a contrast to arrive here on a Friday night and hear the whistle of a steam locomotive. That loco, City of Melbourne, was built in Glasgow in 1951 and is a welcome phantom from the past. I'm about to board the train; it's hauling a collection of heritage carriages collectively known as the Grainlander. The cheekily derivative name hints at its destination - the lightly populated Mallee and Wimmera regions of western Victoria..."

Taking a heritage train to see the Silo Art Trail of western Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Goolwa to Victor Harbor: Classic Aussie Holiday with a Twist
Escape, 18 July 2022

"I have another historic rail journey to take – and a rare one. From Victor Harbor, a horse-drawn tram runs across the causeway to Granite Island. Each of the trams is a magnificent two-level vehicle with an open top and lined with wooden benches and timber flooring, accessed via a tight stairway at each end. Painted green and yellow, and featuring a hand-tolled bell, the trams are a pleasing apparition from the past – especially when attached to the mighty Clydesdale horses that pull them..."

Riding a heritage railway and horse tramway in regional South Australia, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Northern Explorer: Spectacular Axed Train Gets a Second Lease on Life
Traveller, 5 July 2022

"In August 2021 the axe fell. As the nation was plunged into another COVID lockdown, rail operator KiwiRail suspended its long-distance trains. And in December, as the return of international tourism was in sight, it announced the Northern Explorer and the Picton-Christchurch Coastal Pacific would remain suspended until mid-2022, when they would return in a "modified form" that could include multi-day rail tours aimed firmly at tourists. This possibility this was the end of same-day long-distance trains sounded an alarm bell for many New Zealanders..."

Outlining the fall and rise of a long-distance train between Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand.

[Read the full article here]

Explore the Mountains of the South Island on the TranzAlpine
Truly Pacific, 15 June 2022

"As the train progresses we seem to be aiming ourselves at the mountains – or more precisely, at a notch at their centre. It’s an unsettling feeling, as if you were driving a car toward a wall with only one tight opening. Again the commentary has an explanation, telling me we’ll follow the Waimakariri River for some time as a path through the rugged terrain, with numerous tunnels and viaducts to also help us progress..."

Taking the TranzAlpine train across the South Island in New Zealand

[Read the full article here]

Overland Train from Adelaide to Melbourne
Senior Traveller, May 2022

"The other benefit of Red Premium makes itself evident as dawn breaks and our train slowly progresses into the Adelaide Hills: a hot breakfast featuring a spinach and feta omelette, served to our seats. As we enjoy our food the train creaks and sways, suburbia melts away and we're immersed in a hilly forested landscape. Occasionally a gap opens amid the trees and we have glimpses of the city below and the ocean beyond. Meanwhile a light mist rises from the paddocks of farms we pass, creating a ghostly aura as dew sparkles in the morning light..."

Catching the historic Overland train from South Australia to Victoria, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Sustainable Australia: Top Tips to Minimise Your Carbon Footprint and Travel Slow
lonelyplanet.com, 14 April 2022

"Australia is such an enormous nation that the instinct of both locals and visitors is to fly between its many far-flung attractions. But in this era of ‘flight-shame’ and increased environmental awareness, it’s possible to reduce your carbon footprint in Oz by traveling by surface transport, seeing more of the country on the way. Here are a number of possibilities..."

Outlining how to avoid flying by opting for rail, sail, cycling and hiking while visiting Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Holidays in Australia by Rail: Seven Great Places You Can Travel to by Train
Traveller, 7 April 2022

"Along with most other Australians, I have childhood memories of the great Aussie road trip. For our Western Australian family it was usually a drive to a holiday house in Augusta, past Margaret River in the state's southwest. Now in 2022, with spiralling petrol prices, the great Aussie road trip is said to be endangered. To which I say, "So what?" You can have more fun travelling by train at a set fare, and help cut your carbon emissions at the same time. Here are some affordable Aussie train trips to replace those treks from the city by car..."

Describing seven great long-distance rail trips in Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Cockle Train a Classic Ride
Senior Traveller, April 2022

"We pull out with a few bumps, following the curve of the harbour before slipping tightly between houses. Then, as we head toward Port Elliot (a stop with a famous bakery), we receive the scenic payoff - the line runs along the top of coastal cliffs, with the beach below and the ocean stretching to the horizon. I'm told you can spot southern right whales here in winter, and a passenger on the previous train told me she'd seen a pod of dolphins. I'm not as lucky, but the views are marvellous..."

Riding the Cockle Train from Victor Harbor to Goolwa, Australia

The World's Most Amazing Train Journeys
Traveller, 23 October 2021

"Doesn't everyone like trains? To me, being asked why I like them is like asking if you prefer the sky to be blue or whether you approve of the sun rising in the east. This is how I see it: trains, that is long-distance trains, are in the landscape, but not of it. They often travel past amazing scenes but are separate from them, always smoothly passing along to the next set of sights. Nothing is more delightful than to be aboard a sleeper train and to awake at dawn and gaze upon a radically different vista than the one that left you at dusk the night before..."

Presenting 24 great rail trips, as an extract from my new book Ultimate Train Journeys: World.

[Read the full article here]

Book excerpt: Heading South - Far North Queensland to WA by Rail
The New Daily, 16 October 2021

"Dinner was taken outside the train at Rawlinna, another ghost town that lay next to a vast sheep station of the same name covering 10,000 square kilometres. I was feeling antsy as we were led through two carriages as a group, to disembark and be marked off a list. The Indian Pacific crew shared the mother hen characteristics of their Overland colleagues, though in a place this remote it was understandable. Except for the short stop in Cook, I’d been aboard the train for almost twenty-four hours and was I dying to get outside..."

Dining under the outback stars on the Indian Pacific train journey from Adelaide to Perth, Australia

[Read the full article here]

What It's Like On Board the XPT
Traveller, 9 September 2021

"Occasionally we'd pass a two-deck Sydney train running along a parallel track. They weren't very full this late on a weekday. I could see people reclining, reading, thumbing their phones. I wondered idly who they were, where they were heading, what they'd be doing when they got there, what they'd be having for dinner, when our trains diverged and they passed out of my life..."

Travelling between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, via sleeper train.

[Read the full article here]

One Train, So Many Views
Senior Traveller, September 2021

"American poet John Whittier said the saddest words in life are 'It might have been', and I have them in mind as I walk past the grand facade of Auckland’s former main railway station. A beautiful Beaux-Arts building from 1930, it would be the perfect place to begin a long train journey across New Zealand’s North Island. But what really matters is what lies ahead: the prospect of a marvellous array of scenery as it tracks through the North Island’s complex geography..."

Riding the Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington, New Zealand

[Read the full article here] (flip to page 20)

Discovering The Great Journeys of New Zealand
International Traveller, 26 July 2021

"Everyone knows New Zealand is a spectacular country to visit, with its rugged snow-capped mountains, dramatic coastline, and rolling green countryside. But there’s one sure way to see it at its best: by rail. The Great Journeys of New Zealand is a series of three marvellous trains – and a ferry – which take you in comfort through the nation’s unforgettable scenery..."

Sharing the delights of three long-distance train journeys in New Zealand

[Read the full article here]

How to Go from North to South by Rail
Traveller, 22 May 2021

"In the early morning light, with Auckland's Sky Tower on the horizon, there's a hint of adventure in the air as I wait to board the train waiting at the city's Strand Station. Via three such trains – each comprising a sleek set of modern carriages – and a ferry, I'm about to undertake a great rail journey across both the North and South islands of New Zealand. I'm looking forward to a trip involving beautiful hilly scenery, dramatic volcanoes, and a multitude of tunnels and viaducts built to carry the rails across New Zealand's challenging terrain. I can't wait to see what's out there..."

Taking three great long-distance rail journeys across New Zealand

[Read the full article here]

Back on Track
Sunday Life, 18 April 2021

"It's been a long time between drinks for passengers of the Indian Pacific, the famous transcontinental train that runs between Perth and Sydney. And as the beverages are included with the fares nowadays, that's a lot of missed cocktails since the service stopped running in March last year. But now it's back, and the Indian Pacific is once more covering the 4352 kilometres of track linking west and east. When it launched in 1970, this train was public transport. But nowadays it's a full-blown 'rail cruise' with the fare including all meals, drinks and off-train excursions..."

Riding the rails once more from Perth to Sydney, Australia, aboard Australia's longest train journey.

[Read the full article here]

What it’s Like Travelling North on The Ghan in the Era of COVID-19
The New Daily,17 April 2021

"After a rigorous check-in procedure involving temperature checks, I entered my Gold Service cabin to find pandemic-era extras including alcohol wipes and hand sanitiser. Other measures include seating only travelling couples or groups together in the dining car, rather than mixing people; and an encouragement to distance where possible in the lounge bar. Otherwise, The Ghan is as it was before the virus: a three-day rail trek from temperate Adelaide through the desert north to the tropics at Darwin, an impressive logistical exercise undertaken by 36 carriages pulled by two sizeable locomotives..."

Describing the journey of The Ghan train from Adelaide to Darwin, Australia, with border entry procedures in Alice Springs

[Read the full article here]

Ocean to Outback: the Great Southern Train
Senior Traveller, April 2021

"Food (beautifully prepared and presented) is a major highlight of the train, as is socialising in the bar; and all food and drink is included in the fare. Sadly I met no international visitors among the passengers this year, but we Aussies on board were determined to have a good time. Several told me how delighted they were to be travelling again, and some had even booked the return leg from Adelaide..."

Taking the luxurious Great Southern train from Brisbane via New South Wales to Adelaide, Australia, with excursions en route

[Read the full article here]

The Revival of the Sleeper Train
lonelyplanet.com, 4 January 2021

"So why has there been this sudden turnaround in the fortunes of sleeper trains, and why should travelers embrace the trend? One word (and it’s a Swedish one): flygskam. Meaning 'flight shame', it signifies an environmental movement which has sprung up in the wake of the climate change activism of Greta Thunberg and others. Citing the high level of carbon emissions caused by commercial flights, its proponents have vowed to travel by surface means, and the sleeper train is key..."

Detailing the revival of the night train with sleeper accommodation, especially in Europe.

[Read the full article here]

A Dream of Trains
The New Daily
, 3 June 2020

"Locked down in my apartment in Melbourne’s CBD, I dreamt of trains. For the past decade I’ve increasingly written about rail travel, drawn more and more into a love of trains. It doesn’t matter what trains they are – luxury 'rail cruises' are impressive, but so to me is a berth in a weathered old-school sleeper car or a seat on any intercity train..."

Discussing the delights of rail travel, with examples from my
past train journeys.

[Read the full article here]

An Unusual Rail Journey Through Queensland’s Gulf Savannah
Truly Aus
, 5 May 2020

"Having survived a major flood in 1974, the Gulflander hung on to become a quirky tourist train. What helped it last so long was the railway’s unusual track, whose arched steel sleepers allowed the rails to sink solidly into the ground. This innovation meant the train could keep going in up to 15 centimetres of water, a huge benefit in a region often hit by heavy wet season rains. 'Gold is long gone, but the train survived because it could still get through floods,' says stationmaster and driver Ken..."

Catching a historic train from Normanton to Croydon in remote Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Destinations Australians Can't Wait to Return to
, 29 March 2020

"Once we're all back in the air, the first place I'll be heading to is the Balkans. I'd been set to visit this region of Europe when the COVID-19 balloon went up, and reluctantly had to cancel flights and other bookings. My wife and I were heading to Athens first, with a Balkan Flexipass from Rail Europe tucked into our passports. After exploring the Greek capital, we intended to spend six weeks travelling by train through Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Romania (we're both keen on a bit of vampire lore) before reaching Istanbul..."

Talking about rail travel through the Balkans, among a group of writers discussing post-COVID-19 travel.

[Read the full article here]

The Savannahlander: An Epic and Eccentric Rail Trek
, 26 February 2020

"'We're your train drivers for today, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So if you don't like us, tough.' It says a lot for the informal vibe of the Savannahlander that this announcement is met with general laughter. It's nearing the end of the train's operating season – it halts over the wet season – so there's only a dozen passengers on board. It's easy to move about in the carriage and make friends, so the journey has a relaxed feel. Not that the Savannahlander is ever a starchy, formal, white-linen-tablecloth kind of experience..."

Joining a memorable rail tour through the Gulf Savannah region of Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

The Best Travel Experiences for 2020
(including a section on rail travel by me)
, 2 January 2020

"A few years ago it seemed that night trains were on the way out, even in their European heartland: German operator Deutsche Bahn abandoned all its sleeper routes, citing increased costs and the efficiency of daylight high-speed trains. But the tide has turned, with Austrian Federal Railways reporting great success with its increased Nightjet services across Europe meeting rising demand from environmentally-conscious travellers..."

Detailing my tips about rail travel, including rail experiences in Peru, Canada and Europe.

[Read the full article here]

Inside the UK's Longest Sleeper Train Journey
lonelyplanet.com, 19 December 2019

"The era of the sleeper train is fading as Europe becomes criss-crossed by high-speed railways, but it lives on in the UK to some of the farthest corners of the country. It’s possible to sleep by rail all the way from the far western reaches of Cornwall to the glens of the Scottish Highlands, in the comfort of your own compartment..."

Catching two great sleeper trains from Cornwall to Scotland via London, UK

[Read the full article here]

Travel New Zealand by Train
lonelyplanet.com, 6 December 2019

"From its beautiful coastline to its spectacular mountains, New Zealand is a place you visit for its scenery – and there’s no better way to gorge on its good looks than by train. Travelling at surface level, you can take in every detail of Aotearoa, stopping off along the way to see more. Here’s how..."

Taking three long-distance rail journeys from the North to South Island of New Zealand

[Read the full article here]

Outback Tracks
True Blue
, December 2019 - January 2020

"I’m in town to catch a train from the attractive station that’s set within gardens like an old farmhouse. Here I find the Gulflander waiting beneath a corrugated canopy, its engine running and frame vibrating as its crew ready it for departure. Remarkably, this remote railway has been in operation since the late 19th century. Originally laid toward Cloncurry to the south, it was diverted to inland Croydon after the start of that town’s 1885 gold rush..."

Riding aboard the historic Gulflander train in Outback Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Coastal Pacific: One of the World's Great Train Journeys
, 11 November 2019

"Considering all the excellent sauvignon blanc that's made its way to me across the Tasman Sea, it seems fitting I should pay it a visit in return. Blenheim is the hub of New Zealand's Marlborough wine region, so there must be sauvignon blanc tastings galore here. I'll never find out, however, as I'm just passing through aboard the Coastal Pacific. This train is one of New Zealand's great rail journeys, passing as it does down the east coast of the South Island..."

Taking the Coastal Pacific train on its route between ocean and mountains in New Zealand.

[Read the full article here]

Travelling the Glacier Express in Excellence Class
, 13 September 2019

"Someone might be having a less-than-excellent day somewhere in Switzerland, but it isn't me. Sipping a glass of Laurent Perrier as I roll out of St Moritz aboard the Glacier Express, I am officially enjoying a day of excellence. For I'm not slumming it in first class or even (shudder) second class – I'm in the brand-new Excellence Class carriage aboard the famous train which takes eight hours to cover 291 kilometres between St Moritz and Zermatt..."

Enjoying a new luxury experience aboard the Glacier Express train in Switzerland.

[Read the full article here]

Travelling Europe by Train is Easier than Flying
Executive Style
, 10 September 2019

"It's chilly in Zürich's main train station at 7am, but it has all the atmosphere I desire at the beginning of a European train trip. The main concourse sits beneath a grand hall of arched windows, and there's an air of purpose as the people around me head to their trains. After an assignment in Switzerland I need to get to London, and it occurred to me that rail travel might be a viable alternative to flying..."

Travelling business class aboard trains from Zürich, Switzerland, via Paris, France to London, UK.

My Window Seat Through Canada’s Amazing Wilderness
, 15 August 2019

"Given that we’re starting in the Canadian Rockies, it doesn’t take long for remarkable scenery to appear. A couple of hours in we pass Mount Robson, the highest peak in the range. An announcement tells us there’s only twelve days in the year when you can see the whole mountain – and we can see it today. It seems a good omen. We’re soon running between two great mountain ranges – the Rockies to our right, the Cariboos to our left..."

Catching a train along a scenic route from Jasper to Prince Rupert, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

London to Glasgow on the Caledonian Sleeper Train
, 25 July 2019

"The Club Car, as it's known on the updated train, is a combined bar and dining car. I slip into one end of a table for four, happy to share. Because the train has departed late the staff are rushed off their feet with orders, but when handed a menu I'm impressed with the range and quality on offer. The Caledonian Sleeper makes a point of filling its menu with ingredients from the north, so it's easy to feel a Scottish vibe even as we're navigating the London suburbs..."

Riding the rails from London to Scotland, UK, aboard a newly updated sleeper train.

[Read the full article here]

Spirit of Queensland Rail Journey: Like Business Class on a Plane
, 4 April 2019

"'WARNING: plastic snakes on station to deter birds.' This yellow-and-black sign at Townsville's railway station is undeniably eye-catching. It strikes me that plastic snakes might also deter humans. I look all around, but I can't find see any fake reptiles. No matter. What's more important is the train waiting for me at the platform. The Spirit of Queensland takes 25 hours to cover the 1681 kilometres from Cairns to Brisbane..."

Riding aboard a modern sleeper train along the coast of Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Here's How to See Australia by Train
lonelyplanet.com, 23 March 2019

"Australia is such a huge country that it seems logical to cross it by plane. But there is another option, one that becomes a memorable holiday in itself: the train. Piecing together connecting routes, it’s possible to take a great rail journey across the continent from savannah to forests to tropics, immersed in ever-changing scenery. Here’s how to do it..."

Describing how to travel around Australia by rail
, from Queensland through NSW, Victoria and South Australia to either Darwin or Perth.

[Read the full article here]

A Magic Bullet to Busan
, 7 March 2019

"As I enter Seoul Station, I have half an eye out for zombies. A week before flying to the South Korean capital I watched Train to Busan, the excellent 2016 movie about a train journey overtaken by a plague of the undead. It managed to both evoke horror, and depict Korail's high-speed rail network in a good light. In the midst of the action the rail company's staff were unfailingly cool under pressure (except when turned into zombies themselves, of course)..."

Catching high-speed trains from Seoul to Busan, South Korea.

[Read the full article here]

See Remote Queensland's Flora and Fauna Aboard the Gulflander Train
, 5 February 2019

"It's not easy to catch a train from Normanton, a remote town in the Gulf Savannah region of northwest Queensland. For one thing, the Gulflander train only operates once a week. And if you try to catch it at the tail end of the wet season, as I am, you run the risk of being washed out. But we've been given the go-ahead by the track crew, and the landscape looks beautiful as we enter the savannah, dotted with slender dark-trunked trees..."

Riding the memorable "train from nowhere to nowhere", in Outback Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

How to Do a Car-free Day Trip from Melbourne
lonelyplanet.com, 10 January 2019

"Melbourne may love its trams, but its excellent public transport system also allows travellers to take excursions into neighbouring regions of Victoria on a budget. Natural forests, towns and the seaside are all within easy reach of the city, and taking the train means you can slow down, enjoy the scenery (or even a craft beer) without the stress of driving or being stuck on a tour timetable..."

Detailing a collection of day trips by public transport from Melbourne, Australia

[Read the full article here]

Full Steam Ahead
Paradise, January-February 2019

"To a train fan there’s nothing more exciting than the hiss of a steam locomotive, and the peal of its whistle. Even more so when it’s about to bear you through a picturesque area of Japan. I’m about to board the SL Taiju, a loco which worked on the northern island of Hokkaido from 1941 to 1974. Recently granted a second life in the Nikko region north of Tokyo, it runs 35-minute trips between the hot springs town of Kinugawa Onsen and Shimo-Imaichi..."

Exploring the Nikko region of Japan for the inflight magazine of Air Niugini.

[Read the full article here]

Lonely Planet: Amazing Train Journeys
(section on Eastern & Oriental Express)

October 2018

"Tracing a route between the busy cities of Bangkok and Singapore, the Eastern & Oriental Express is an appealing way to sample the sights of South-east Asia. Passengers experience a little of everything on the two to three-night journey: luxurious comfort within finely-crafted décor; quality dining with a choice of Asian and European dishes; beautiful scenery as the tropical landscape slips past the train windows; and cultural knowledge..."

Describing a luxurious way to travel by rail between Thailand and Singapore, via Malaysia.

[Find the book here]

A Rail of a Time
Spring/Summer 2018

"Then it’s time to hop aboard the most impressive train of all: the Indian Pacific. A two-night journey west to Perth includes top-quality dining, stark desert scenery, and dinner in a remote ghost town. It’s a fitting finale to an almost 8000 kilometre rail odyssey..."

Detailing how to catch trains round Australia from Far North Queensland through NSW, Victoria and South Australia, all the way to Western Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Poetry in Motion: The London Underground
, 28 July 2018

"As it's been built in fits and spurts since the 19th century, the Tube possesses none of the bland uniformity of more recently built systems. The most atmospheric stations are those that opened along the first line in 1863, from Paddington to Farringdon. Standing on one of the oldest platforms at Baker Street Station, with its curving brick roof, it's easy to fantasise stepping aboard one of its long-vanished steam trains alongside Sherlock Holmes..."

Describing the appeal of the London Underground in the UK, as one of a series of transport delights (scroll down for my segment).

[Read the full article here]

The Grand Island Tour, Rottnest Island
, 11 July 2018

"Wildlife aside, Rottnest Island has had a fascinating history. Most visitors focus on the physical pleasures of its beaches and restaurants, but there's plenty of scope for exploring its chequered past. The Grand Island Tour, which I'm on today, is a good way to start. The first section is aboard an open-sided train which follows the route of the original army railway of the 1930s. From a stop in The Settlement, it tracks slowly upward to Oliver Hill..."

Joining a tour of Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Cape Town to Pretoria by Train – Diamond Empires to Shanty Towns
, 18 June 2018

"A young man in a suit stands at the entrance, proffering a tray of champagne glasses. Beyond him, the 52 passengers on this two-night trip are settling in among the deep sofas, high ceilings and chandeliers, drinking bubbly and enjoying salmon or cucumber sandwiches. The day before, I'd been at this same station on a solo excursion to the city's south via the suburban train network, keeping an eye on my valuables and avoiding slashed train seats. Today's ride is clearly in a different class altogether..."

Taking the luxurious Pride of Africa train from Cape Town to Pretoria, South Africa.

[Read the full article here]

Poland to Ukraine by Sleeper Train
, 7 June 2018

"According to old movies, there were two types of European long-distance train. One was the sexy, luxurious sleeper such as the Orient Express, carrying exiled duchesses to elegant cities like Paris. The other was a shabby train packed with foreign agents and shady smugglers, hoping to slip unnoticed past the Iron Curtain. You might think that age of exoticism and intrigue on the rails is gone; replaced by shiny high-speed trains with bland open carriages, zipping across unmonitored borders. But you'd be wrong..."

Riding overnight on a train between Poland and Lviv, Ukraine; then on to Kiev.

[Read the full article here]

Alaska to Canada by Rail
, 29 May 2018

"It's an extraordinary engineering achievement. From sea level the railway climbs almost 900 metres over a 30-kilometre route, twisting and turning as it negotiates slopes, bridges and tunnels. The WP&YR closed in 1982, defeated by a new road and a mining slump, but reopened six years later for tourism. Nowadays it draws its riders from the cruise ship passengers who swarm the docks where Soapy met his end; along with hikers walking the popular Chilkoot Trail..."

Catching a narrow-gauge train through the mountains from Alaska, USA to Yukon, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

Life on the Rails in Porthmadog, Wales
, 14 January 2018

"In every British summer, so I've been told, there's one perfect sunny day. And it seems I've jagged it today, as my narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railway train trundles through the countryside to Caernarfon. After we depart Porthmadog, a former slate-mining port on a pretty estuary, its urban backyards are replaced by craggy hills behind meadows with sheep and cattle. With a blue sky above, and the mirror-calm water of lakes along the route, each view seems a postcard cliche..."

Catching trains along three narrow-gauge railways from this town in Wales, UK.

[Read the full article here]

Q Train Brings Glamour Back to Rail Travel
, 6 January 2018

"A tourist train offers a trip into nostalgia, but it's usually a journey to the Golden Age of Rail rather than the pop hits of my childhood. But the Club Loco bar was once the disco car of the Sunlander, the Brisbane-Cairns sleeper train that was retired in 2014. Now, painted sky blue, former Sunlander carriages comprise a new dinner train that runs to the coastal town of Queenscliff and back..."

Enjoying the delights of this restaurant train from Drysdale to Queenscliff, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

52 Weekends Away: Indian Pacific
Good Weekend
, 28 October 2017

"One of the world's great rail journeys, the Indian Pacific crosses the continent over 4352 kilometres of track – including the longest dead-straight section in the world, 478 kilometres across the flat and empty Nullarbor Plain. It's a spectacular route through mountains, cities and vineyard country, past outback ghost towns, and across stark deserts..."

Detailing the experience aboard this long-distance train from Sydney via Adelaide to Perth, Australia, as part of a collection of recommended accommodation.

[Read the full article here]

How to Build a DIY Rail and Cruise Tour of Canada and Alaska
lonelyplanet.com, 14 September 2017

"A luxury rail journey combined with a coastal cruise is the hottest way to see western Canada and southeast Alaska. Each summer, thousands take a gourmet train journey through the Rocky Mountains, then admire the Inside Passage by sea. If you’re an independent traveler, however, it’s possible to bypass the expense and crowds by piecing together your own rail tour and cruise..."

Piecing together a train and ferry journey to western Canada and the coast of Alaska, USA

[Read the full article here]

Spirit of the Outback: into the Wild, Wild West
, 8 September 2017

"The adjoining Tuckerbox restaurant car is similarly colour-coded, but more eccentrically decorated. The dividers between table booths are each topped by metal frames containing livestock brands of famous cattle and sheep stations, such as Bowen Downs, Wellshot and Isis Downs. Above the tables there's a curve of corrugated iron, a reminder of rural Australia's favourite building material. The effect is that of a quirky Outback-themed eatery. Tacky or fun? I'm going with the latter..."

Talking the sleeper train from Brisbane to Longreach in Queensland, Australia.

[Read the full article here]

Coast to Coast: Across Australia by Rail
lonelyplanet.com, 12 June 2017

"For almost half a century, Australia's Indian Pacific train has traced a three-day journey by rail between Sydney and Perth. Its 4,352km route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans takes in mountains, native bushland, desert, wheat fields and urban sprawl. Those taking this trip gain a close-up experience of Australia’s immense size and diversity, as its dramatic landscape slides past..."

Travelling by rail across Australia through New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia

[Read the full article here]

Melbourne to Sydney to Adelaide by Rail
, 5 February 2017

"Catching a train from platform one of Melbourne's Southern Cross Station is like boarding a flight from gate one of an international airport – rarely done, and all the more special for that. With its undulating wave-like roof, Melbourne's main station is an exciting place from which to depart on a long-distance rail adventure. This is a full-on rail trek, which will take me to three state capitals through a range of terrains, and home again – without boarding a single plane..."

Travelling through three states of
Australia via three different long-distance trains.

[Read the full article here]

Ocean Rail: Riding the Pacific Surfliner
Traveller, 12 November 2016

"The year 1915 was a big one for San Diego. To celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, California's southernmost city threw a two-year-long party: the Panama-California Exposition. To welcome visitors to this event, a new train station, the Santa Fe Depot, was built in the pseudo-Spanish Mission Revival style. I'm at that station to catch Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner train, which runs north through Los Angeles and Santa Barbara before terminating at San Luis Obispo..."

Heading north along the Pacific coast by rail, through Southern California, USA

[Read the full article here]

10 Things in Australia You Can Only Experience by Train
, 29 August 2016

"It's a big country, and there's no better way of experiencing its vastness than by train. Australia is blessed with two transcontinental rail journeys: the Indian Pacific which runs east-west to link Sydney with Perth; and The Ghan which runs north-south between Adelaide and Darwin. Along these two routes, and others, there's an array of unique experiences..."

Discussing unique aspects of long-distance train travel in Australia

[Read the full article here]

Sleepers to Seattle
, 21 May 2016

"'The last of the great train stations.' When it opened in May 1939, no-one could foresee that Los Angeles' Union Station would soon receive this accolade. Train travel had helped knit the vast territory of the United States together, after all, and every major city wanted a rail terminal that proclaimed its significance and prosperity. Even now that aircraft have taken most of the market for long-distance travel, LA's main station remains a magnificent piece of architecture..."

Taking a sleeper train from Los Angeles to Seattle, USA, via San Francisco and Portland

[Read the full article here]

West Coast USA by Rail
Get Up & Go, Summer 2016

"In my view, a good breakfast is the foundation of a long-distance rail journey. So it’s lucky that Philippe the Original is a short walk from Los Angeles’ Union Station, on the edge of Chinatown. You couldn’t ask for a more genuine slice of Americana before heading on a train journey up the USA’s west coast. I eat a sprawling omelette studded with spinach and onion, on a bed of hash browns; then I walk to the most beautiful railway station I’ve ever seen..."

Taking the train all the way north from Los Angeles to Seattle, USA.

[Read the full article here]

How to Travel Around Poland by Train
, 23 October 2015

"Forget the car – with a rail network that radiates to all parts of Poland from its biggest cities, a much better way to experience the country is by train. Whether departing from shiny new stations or crumbling old ones, along busy main lines or sleepy branch lines, aboard brand new trains or communist-era carriages, Polish train travel is never dull..."

Explaining the ins and outs of train travel in Poland

[Read the full article here]

Express Yourself
The Sun-Herald
, 26 July 2015

"It didn't take long for Sinatra to show up. I may be sitting in the beautifully appointed piano bar aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express, a luxury train rattling along the rails of Thailand, but New York, New York is being crooned by the Singaporean pianist. Seated near him is a cluster of passengers, still in suits and finery from dinner, singing self-consciously under our breath while clutching drinks. I'll have to give that song a more determined effort later. For the moment, however, there is plenty to explore..."

Riding the rails from Thailand via Malaysia to Singapore, aboard a luxury train.

[Read the full article here]

Converts' Guide: Long-Distance Train Travel
The Sun-Herald
, 15 March 2015

"There are many types of long-distance trains, from regularly scheduled services to those that resemble luxury cruise liners. What they have in common is ever-changing scenery. A train is a unique mode of transport, akin to a small town on wheels; always in contact with the world outside, but also slightly separate. It's difficult to get bored as the entire planet passes by your window: people, farms, forests, dramatic landscapes, and the normally hidden backyards of vibrant cities..."

Promoting the benefits of long-distance rail travel, in one of a set of travel essays; including the Indian Pacific train across Australia.

[Read the full article here]

To Berlin by Rail
Get Up & Go, Summer 2015

"Most travellers arrive in London looking for history, but it’s also there on your way out. I’m sipping great coffee within the cavernous interior of Caravan, a sleek modern cafe on Granary Square at Kings Cross. The huge brick building it’s located in was once a storehouse for grain brought in by rail and barge. With that transport history, it seems the right place from which to set off on a grand rail journey to the Continent..."

Detailing a rail journey from London, UK to Berlin, Germany with stops at Brussels, Belgium and Cologne.

[Read the full article here]

Secrets of the London Underground
, 30 December 2014

"Inevitably, every visitor to London forms a relationship with the Tube. In other cities, underground railways are practical, no-nonsense ways to get around town quickly. But the London Underground has always seemed more than that. Its distinctive logo, its iconic route map, its many stations with curious names, and the strange unearthliness of its deep-level platforms, give it a personality all its own..."

Uncovering five Tube secrets in London, UK, including fake facades, a missing crypt and a heart-wrenching memorial.

[Read the full article here]

Cirque du Wheels
The Sun-Herald
, 17 February 2013

"On my left are lofty mountains, covered with greenery and occasionally interrupted by villages. On the right is the vast blue-grey St Lawrence Seaway, its distant opposite shore barely visible through the morning mist. Directly opposite me, across a table, is Pierre, an avionics engineer from Montreal. Pierre and I get on like a maison en feu (that'd be a house on fire), politely offering each other dibs on the last muffin while chatting about the difficulty of taking photos through the carriage windows..."

Taking a luxury train journey into the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

Wild Ride
Medical Observer, 23 November 2012

"The cog system stays engaged as we ease down the slope to our next stop, the strangely spelled Dubbil Barril. Rather bizarrely, this was once the site of an isolated dairy farm, which sent out its milk in cans via the railway. There are lots of theories about the odd place name, but the one that most appeals to me is that of the semi-literate local who ordered a double-barrelled shotgun from Melbourne but misspelled the order..."

Exploring the west of Tasmania, Australia, aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

A Theatrical Journey into Canada’s Charlevoix
BBC Travel
, 19 November 2012

"The Charlevoix Railway carried passengers until 1959. Fifty years later, Gauthier wanted to give something back to the region that had kick-started his success, and upgraded the line to make it viable for a luxury train, hoping to encourage travellers to visit the Charlevoix from Québec City. Two versions of the Le Massif train leave each morning from a suitably dramatic locale, the spectacular Montmorency Falls..."

Catching the Le Massif gourmet train into the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada.

[Read the full article here]

Sydney by Tram
Medical Observer, 4 November 2011

"'He shot through like a Bondi tram!' It’s fading now, but this colourful expression was part of the Australian idiom for many decades, meaning to depart at high speed. Whether Sydney trams were ever that fast is another question; but since the city’s tramways were closed in the 1960s, there’s been little chance to find out. There is, however, one exception..."

Exploring inner-city Sydney, Australia by light rail, from Paddy's Markets to Jubilee Park.

A Moving Experience
Medical Observer, 23 September 2011

"As we approach the Rocky Mountains the landscape grows ever more impressive, high and craggy with snow-capped peaks, until we stop for 90 minutes at Jasper. The mountain town is an attractive blend of both natural and human-made attractions, as all the notable civic buildings around the station have been built in a harmonious style involving stone, timber frames and steep pitched roofs..."

Taking an epic train journey between Vancouver and Toronto, Canada.
More travel writing: 
Australia | Pacific |
Europe | Asia | Americas | Africa & Middle East
Travel: By Rail

I'm a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. This page contains examples of my writing about rail travel, in reverse chronological order, with a link to the original published
article where available.

If you'd like to republish one of these pieces, or would like a new piece written about the same topic, please get in touch via the contacts below:

All articles in this archive are available for republication (fee to be negotiated). Articles can be rewritten to meet your style or length requirements. Please contact me by email with your query.

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