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Romance of steel wheels

india Updated: May 19, 2010 01:31 IST
Gary A. Warner

Regardless of which continent you’re on, there is nothing more romantic than a long train ride, tucked away in a small private cabin with a pile of books brought along to read but discarded for long periods gazing out the window.

VIA Rail: Vancouver-Jasper. The trains are nicer than its Amtrack counterparts, the service is better and you’re more likely to be on time aboard this Canadian train. The route from Vancouver to Jasper in the Canadian Rockies is called “the ski train” in winter. Come summer, the 1950s dome car
features views of pine forests, vast lakes and some of the tallest peaks on the continent.

The Indian-Pacific, Australia: This epic two and a half day Australian rail ride from Sydney on the Pacific Ocean to Perth on the Indian Ocean covers 2,704 miles. It includes a 297-mile section across the Nullarbor Plain, that is the world’s longest straight track.

Eurostar, Paris-London: The recent upgrade of tracks in Britain has shortened the trip by 20 minutes, and the switch from modern Waterloo Station to the restored red-brick Victorian St. Pancras Station make entering London one of the great rail experiences in the world.

Shinkansen, Japan: The Nozomi 500 bullet train is the fastest in Japan, and its grey bullet-nosed front with the jet fighter-like bubble cockpit is unlike any in the world.

TGV: French trains move you around the country in a matter of hours. Have a wonderful lunch at the Belle Epoque Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon, then get on a TGV to be in Lyon in less than two hours — it’s a mix of the best of old and new train worlds.