Amazing Train Journeys By Lonely Planet: Book Review

Train journeys profile

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The trend towards slow travel and a desire for more environmentally friendly transport mean that trains are back in fashion. And now Lonely Planet have published a new edition of their book Amazing Train Journeys, showcasing some of the most scenic and enjoyable railways in the world.

Amazing Train Journeys

Book cover with train passing over a tall viaduct and text saying "Amazing Train Journeys".

This book is described as “a tribute to our love affair with trains”. In the foreword Mark Smith (the rail expert behind the online guide to everything train-related The Man in Seat 61) describes the magic of rail. It is that elusive combination of the train itself, the passing landscape, and the anticipation of the final destination.

Nostalgia may be a factor, but we are now in a “21st century renaissance” of rail travel, where heritage railways and brand new high speed lines both have a part to play in creating unforgettable experiences.

Amazing Train Journeys has trips of all kinds. There are the well known lines like the Orient Express and South Africa’s Blue Train, but there are also many lesser known routes. Some trains offer multi-day journeys that are more like overland cruises, with meals on board and long stops at stations along the way. While others are very much public transport for local people. You also get a glimpse of the grand railway stations that mark the beginning or the end of a journey.

The Familiar And The Exotic

If you are a regular train traveller, you may find some old friends in this book. I was pleased to find some lines I had been on, such as Norway’s Flåm Railway and the Kuranda Scenic Railway in Australia. And there will be some that you are inspired to travel in the future (I am very tempted by the Linho do Douro in Portugal).

Of course, what is exotic to some is everyday experience for others. I was reminded of this by the inclusion of the UK’s East Coast Mainline that connects London with Edinburgh. The northern part of this line is indeed spectacular, a fact that I often overlooked when I travelled regularly along that route…

Seated figure reading a book. The book is open at a page that says "The Rocky Mountaineer" and has a picture of a train passing through forests and mountains.
Using Amazing Train Journeys for inspiration (image copyright Lonely Planet)

A Wealth Of Information

The book features 60 journeys from all around the world. Each entry has a map and a detailed description of the journey and of “life on board”. There are lists of the main stops, and things to look out for on the way. Depending on the route you have chosen you might find romantic castles, mountain passes, or the vast Australian outback.

There are also snippets of history to add to the mystique. You’ll hear that “Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt were among the early passengers” of the Mombasa to Nairobi line, and that the Himalayan line of Kalka to Shimla passes by Summer Hill, a one-time haunt of Mahatma Gandhi. And, as always with Lonely Planet publications, there are lots of full colour photographs to whet your appetite!

How To Use Amazing Train Journeys

Every entry includes practical information, with details of cost and how to book. There are suggestions for side excursions and other routes. And, where appropriate, budget alternatives are suggested. There is everything here that you need to plan your next trip.

But this is not only a book for planning. Use it for inspiration or as a reminder of past trips. Or, perhaps, just for a spot of armchair travel…

Amazing Train Journeys, Lonely Planet, 2nd ed, 2024, 9781837581726


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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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