World's Top 25 Trains

Story here. It’s from The Age, so the emphasis is that three Aussie trains have been included in the list. But here’s the complete list:

The world’s top 25 trains as named by the Society of International Railway Travellers:

North America:

  • Canadian (Canada)
  • Royal Canadian Pacific (Canada)
  • Canadian Rockies Steam Express (Canada)
  • Rocky Mountaineer (Canada)
  • GrandLuxe Express (US)
  • Sierra Madre Express (Mexico)

South America:

  • Andean Explorer (Peru)
  • Hiram Bingham (Peru)


  • Blue Train (South Africa)
  • Pride of Africa (Rovos Rail) (South Africa)

Asia/Indian Subcontinent:

  • Palace on Wheels (India)
  • Eastern & Oriental Express (SE Asia)
  • Shangri-La Express (China/Tibet)
  • Toy Train (India)
  • Deccan Odyssey (India)


  • Danube Express (Central Europe, Turkey)
  • Al Andalus Express (Spain)
  • El Transcantabrico (Spain)
  • Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express (Russia)
  • Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Europe)
  • Glacier Express (Switzerland)
  • Royal Scotsman (Scotland)


  • The Ghan
  • The Indian Pacific
  • The Sunlander

I’m familiar with the Eastern & Oriental Express, because it runs between Thailand and Singapore. But Geez, is it ever expensive. For instance, Bangkok to Singapore is listed as US$2050 per person one way! (Full fare list is here.)

It sounds to me like the criteria for selection were quite vague. I can ony speak to the Canadian trains listed, but it’s worh pointing out that only one of the four is in regular passenger service: the Canadian, which runs three times a week between Toronto and Vancouver (a three day trip).

I’ve never heard of the Royal Canadian Pacific. True, we do have a railway named Canadian Pacific, but it is strictly freight nowadays. Even before it gave up its passenger service to VIARail in the 1970s, I don’t recall it having such a named train. It did, however, run the Canadian, which, as I noted, still runs today, though as a VIA train.

I’ve never heard of the Rocky Mountain Steam Express either, though I’m not going to be so quick to discount it. Steam tourist trains are popular here, and the scenery of the Rockies is spectacular, so it makes sense that some entrepreneur in Alberta or BC would find a steam locomotive and arrange day trips to see the mountain scenery from a steam train. Though the only Alberta steam excursion I’m aware of runs between two points on the flat prairie.

The Rocky Mountaineer is a real train, running between Calgary and Vancouver, but it is designed as a tourist train. Generally, it runs only in daylight, and stops for the night at the (approximate) halfway point: Kamloops BC, where passengers are offloaded and put up for the night in a hotel. It’s run by a private outfit, whose whole idea was to provide a tourist route through the Rockies between Calgary and Vancouver via Banff National Park; instead of VIA’s regularly-scheduled Canadian, running between Edmonton and Vancouver via Jasper National Park.

In my opinion, only one of the Canadian trains listed would qualify for selection: the Canadian, a regularly-scheduled, in revenue service, train you’d use to get places; as opposed to a tourist train you’d use to see things. But that’s just me. Interesting list, at any rate.

The Canadian has several service classes. You can go totally tourist with a big ole sleeper compartment, single Murphy bed roomette, or Pullman, all of which include white linen diner service, lounge and observation dome car - or you can ride coach class and eat on trays all the way across the country. And you DO see things - chief among these “things” being the glory of the Rockies. W00T.

I went roomette Winnipeg -> Vancouver -> Winnipeg in '02. 42 hours each way. Loved it. Didn’t sleep so well, but loved it.

Nice to meet a fellow Canadian train traveller! Just a few years ago, I did VIA’s Canadian between Toronto and Edmonton (roomette); and back in the 60s, a few trips on CP’s Canadian between Calgary and Toronto with my parents–triple bedroom! Also, I had a roomette on VIA’s Ocean between Montreal and Halifax. Much like the Canadian, actually. I must say, even though I’ve never experienced their coach service, VIA’s overnight trains are fantastic trips.

Just thought I’d add that when I say I’m familiar with the Eastern & Oriental, I’ve not taken it myself. What, at those prices? But the well-heeled passengers it’s targeted at swear by it.

Royal Canadian Pacific

Canadian Rockies Steam Express

Rocky Mountaineer

I’ve done The Ghan as far as Kulgera. I’d say it’s worth the price.

Thanks for the information. I still have a problem, though, with tourist trains such as these that are neither regularly scheduled nor in regular revenue service making the list. But it seems that these two do exist. Thanks again.

I cannot speak for the other trains, but the Eastern & Oriental is a regularly scheduled service. Of course, at those prices it’s definitely a tourist train.