• MAR 27, 2011
  • WRITTEN BY: Evie Stacey

When it comes to a good story, air travel can’t beat the train. Passenger trains have played a leading role in drama both real and fictional for a long time. You’re sure to have a thirst for train travel after reading about these famous and infamous trains.

The Orient Express

Naturally, we have to start with the most renowned train line in history. Stretching all the way from Paris to Istanbul, the original Orient Express gained a reputation for luxury, intrigue, and mystery. The original reason is unknown, but it may be because of two things: its passengers and its route.

The Orient Express crossed many European states during a time in history when international tension was high in the area. The train itself was sometimes affected by this tension. It was shut down during World War I, and dissidents from different countries sometimes sabotaged the tracks, even during periods of peace.

In addition, the Orient Express was, for a long time, the fastest way to cross the distance between these countries. As a result, important diplomats, heads of state, and the wealthy and famous often travelled alongside the other passengers. To accommodate their more illustrious riders, the rail company added luxury cars, restaurants, and other amenities.

The Orient Express has been a frequent setting for fictional mystery in both Hollywood and literature. This has undoubtedly helped to cement its intriguing reputation.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman route has been running from London to Edinburgh since 1862-twenty-one years earlier than the Orient Express. It’s also more regular than the Orient Express; it has left London at the traditional time of 10 AM more or less since its beginning, and still runs today.

Originally, the Flying Scotsman was the name of the route from London. It was actually a nickname, which did not take hold officially until 1924. In order to attract publicity for the route, a brand-new steam locomotive was given the same name and put on display at the British Empire Exhibition that year.

The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman was mainly used for promotional purposes, but it also hauled trains. It broke several records in its day, from making the London-to-Edinburgh trip in eight non-stop hours to reaching 100 miles per hour. In its lifetime, it has been to America and Australia on promotional tours, and it has also been used to pull privately owned Orient Express replica trains.

You can still ride the Flying Scotsman route from London to Scotland. You can also see the record-breaking Flying Scotsman steam locomotive at the National Railway Museum in York.

The Trans-Siberian Railway

Covering 5,778 miles over the course of nine days, the Trans-Siberian Railway is known as the longest regular train route in history. Dating from 1916, the route stretches from Moscow to Vladivostok, with secondary routes that connect to Mongolia, Manchuria, and the Sea of Japan.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the only train route that crosses Russia, and it is still considered vital to the economy of the country. You can still plan a trip on the original route today. Your trip is sure to be more comfortable than it would have been during the Cold War, when Westerners were only permitted to ride in segregated compartments with Stalinist propaganda playing over the loudspeakers.


France’s train à grande vitesse, or “high-speed train,” has its name for a reason. Reaching speeds of 574.8 kilometres per hour, it’s easily the fastest wheeled train on land. The original route, between Paris and Lyon, was significantly faster than both plane travel and other trains. Today, TGV trains run many routes throughout France, and also connect France with cities in other countries.

The Brighton Belle

This train ran from London’s Victoria Station to Brighton on the coast of Sussex from 1934 to 1972. The name “Brighton Belle” was applied to three five-car Pullman electric trains that ran the same route during this time. Before this, the first Pullman train was built for the same route in 1908, under the name “Southern Belle.”

Contrary to popular belief, trains don’t necessarily take longer than planes. Some high-speed trains can match the speeds of commercial jets. They’re also a fun and interesting way to see the landscape, stop and visit destinations along the way, and savour the journey as well as the destination. Some trains are known for their luxury, some for their historical significance, and some for their technological achievements. But whatever your reason for choosing train travel, you’re sure to have a memorable trip.

If you would like to experience the thrill of a journey on one of the most famous trains in history, The Orient Express, then look no further than our fabulous selection of Orient Express day trips.


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