What are the longest travelling trains in world?
Like trains so much you never want to get off? You might want to consider one of the following journeys, which are the world’s longest by rail, with no change of train involved.
1. Trans-Siberian: Moscow to Vladivostok (Russia)
The longest rail journey in the world starts in Moscow and ends in Vladivostok. The train crosses several time zones and in addition to the endless birch trees of Siberia the scenery includes the Ural mountains and Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world. A popular alternative is the Trans-Mongolian travelling from Moscow to Beijing via Ulan Bator (7826km/4862 miles). Another variation is the Trans-Manchurian: Moscow to Beijing via Harbin in China (8984km/5582 miles).
Distance 5,753 miles.
Duration Six days.
Estimated cost Tickets on the classic public train, the Rossiya (Number 2), from Moscow to Vladivostok cost around £500. If you want to do the journey in the manner of a Tsar, an eight-night trip with Golden Eagle Luxury (goldeneagleluxurytrains.com) Trains will set you back the best part of £10,000.
Key stops Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Irkutsk (Lake Baikal), Ulan Ude, Chita, Birobidzhan.
2. The Canadian: Toronto to Vancouver (Canada)
There’s no Wi-Fi on ViaRail’s transcontinental jaunt, so be prepared for hours of watching the scenery. Luckily, what you’ll see – snow-capped Rocky Mountains, the forest of the Canadian Shield, and the rest of Canada’s strikingly empty landscape — is breathtaking. The ride is further enhanced by comfortable sleeper cars and the chance of seeing moose, deer, and even bears from the windows.
Distance 2,775 miles
Duration Three days
Estimated cost From £194 (economy) to upwards of £1,550 (prestige) from VIA Rail (viarail.ca)
Key stops Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper.
3. Shanghai to Lhasa (China)
From the global financial hub of Shanghai, west to the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Lhasa, on the Tibetan Plateau, this train heads into the plains of deepest central China, through the former imperial capital of Xi’an, before rising through the mountains to reach Tibet. Scenic highlights include the glacier at Tangula Mountain, which also boasts the highest train line in the world, at 5,072m, and Cuona Lake.
Distance 2,717 miles
Duration 47 hours and 40 minutes.
Estimated cost From £40 for a hard seat; £132 for a sleeper, from China Tibet Train (chinatibettrain.com)
Key stops Nanjing, Xi’an, Golmud.
4. California Zephyr: Emeryville (San Francisco) to Chicago
Taking a little more than two days, this is one of the longest and arguably the most scenic rail journey in the United States and covers the trail of the pioneers, taking in the Colorado River, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada range; you can jump off at Reno if you’ve had enough natural beauty.
Distance 2,438 miles
Duration 51 hours
Estimated cost Anywhere between £100 and £650, from Amtrak (Amtrak.com)
Key stops Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento.
5. Indian Pacific: Sydney to Perth (Australia)
Over the course of four days and three nights, the Indian Pacific – the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world – traverses the width of Australia. You’ll experience the barren expanse of the Nullarbor and the forests and waterfalls of the Blue Mountains and every goldmine, ghost town and grapevine in between.
Distance 2,704 miles
Duration 65 hours
Estimated cost From £480 for a seat to about £2,000 for a luxury cabin – it costs marginally more to travel westbound – from Great Southern Rail (greatsouthernrail.com)
Key stops Broken Hill, Adelaide, Barossa Valley, Kalgoorlie, Cook, Rawlinna.
6. Vivek Express: Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari (India)
This 82-hour trip on the weekly Vivek Express is the longest train journey in India. It traverses the length of the country from the far north-east to its southern tip at an average speed of 32mph. Take plenty to read and drink lots of chai.
Distance 2,633 miles
Duration 82 hours (about four days)
Estimated cost Remarkably cheap – from £6.50 an unreserved base fare, up to about £45
Key stops 57 in total: all pretty small stations
7. Paris-Moscow Express: Paris (France) to Moscow (Russia)
The longest trans-European route heads east from the French capital’s Gare de l’Est and arrives at the Russian capital’s Bielowruskaia station two days later, taking in some of the continent’s major cities on the way. You’ll pass through Belarus so will need a Belarus transit visa, as well as the one you need to enter Russia.
Distance 1,998 miles
Duration 48 hours
Estimated cost From £175 to £650, excluding visas.
Key stops Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk
8. The Ghan: Darwin to Adelaide (Australia)
Australia’s red centre is one of the most spectacular wildernesses in the world, and the Ghan is unquestionably the most comfortable way to see it. The train runs through the heart of the country: between the south coast at Adelaide and the north coast at Darwin, taking two nights and three days. It is named after the Afghans who helped to open up the Australian interior on camels imported from India. From Alice, as the locals call it, you can visit the world’s largest monolith, Uluru, or Ayers Rock.
Distance 1,851 miles
Duration 47 hours (two nights)
Estimated cost From £453 for a seat to £1,755 for a platinum service cabin from Great Southern Rail (greatsouthernrail.com)
Key stops Alice Springs.
9. Eastern and Oriental Express: Bangkok (Thailand) to Singapore
The classic route for this train, which was inspired by Shanghai Express, the 1932 film starring Marlene Dietrich, is the 1,255-mile journey from Bangkok to Singapore (or vice versa), with stops at the Bridge on the River Kwai and Penang (the jewel of the Orient).
Distance 1,355 miles
Duration Three days/two nights or four days/ three nights
Estimated cost From £1,560 per person through Belmond (belmond.com); regular services between Bangkok and Singapore cost about £37 one-way.
Key stops Bridge on River Kwai, Hua Hin, Kuala Lumpur.
10. Blue Train: Pretoria to Cape Town (South Africa)
Spot wild game on the savannah from the windows of South Africa’s famously decadent Blue Train, which crosses the country in just over a day. Traveling from Pretoria to Cape Town, the train is more like a fast-moving luxury hotel, with butler service, Cuban cigars, and gourmet dinners. But the main attraction is the view of the country’s spectacular farmlands, forests and vineyards.
Distance 994 miles
Duration 27 hours
Estimated cost The one-way fare, bookable through bluetrain.co.za, is R14,060 (£800) per person. You can also travel from Cape Town to Jo’burg on the weekly Premier Classe train for R2,840 (£160) or on the four-times-per-week Shosholoza Meyl Sleeper for an incredible R630 – about £36. (southafricanrailways.co.za).
Key stops Matjiesfontein, Kimberley.
Wait, there’s more…
Osaka to Sapporo (Japan) 937 miles.
Stockholm (Sweden) to Narvik (Norway) 910 miles.
CrossCountry: Aberdeen to Penzance (UK) 722 miles.
Isbani: Alexandria to Aswan (Egypt) 683 miles.