by The Telegraph, June 5, 2017
Twilight Express Mizukaze, Japan
1) Japans’s newest luxury sleeper train, Twilight Express Mizukaze, is expected to turn heads when it begins its tours of western Japan later this month. The dining car will feature menus by Japan’s leading Michelin-starred chef and the design will draw heavily on Art Deco. But such is the demand for such luxury train journeys in Japan that, as with new Train Suite Shiki-Shima, tickets are unlikely to be available to international travellers for some time. A better bet might be the Kyushu Seven Stars, the first of the new generation of luxury Japanese trains, which launched in 2013.
● For information regarding availability on all three trains, see luxurytrainclub.com
● View our selection of escorted railway tours
Eastern & Oriental Express, Thailand/Singapore
2) With its deep green, cream-coloured exteriors and sumptuous wood-panelled interiors – mirroring those featured in the Marlene Dietrich film Shanghai Express – this is a train to set pulses racing, particularly if you have a love of the exotic and the tropical, best savoured, champagne glass in hand, from the splendid vantage point of the open-air observation car.
● The signature 2/3-day journey is between Bangkok and Singapore. A newer variation is the more exclusive six-day Fables of the Peninsula tour, limited to 60 passengers in State and Presidential cabins, with visits to the Cameroon Highlands and the beaches of Huay Yang. From £2,075 and £5,509 respectively: belmond.com
Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
3) You are likely to savour your journey on the Belmond Andean Explorer, South America’s “first luxury sleeper train”, which since its launch in May has scaled new heights in the world of luxury train travel on its journeys to Lake Titicaca. The largest of the cabins offer double beds and leather armchairs in which to relax; should you wish to venture from there, dishes served in the dining carriage are from a menu inspired by the celebrated Lima chef Diego Muñoz and the drink of choice in the lounge bar is the Pisco sour.
● The two-night journey Andean Highlands & Islands of Discovery travelling from Arequipa to Cusco costs from £1,090: belmond.com
Venice Simplon-Orient Express, Grand Ball Venice
4) With its exquisitely fashioned Art Deco interiors and a name that evokes all that is glamorous about travel by train, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express needs no introduction. Long a favourite with couples celebrating special anniversaries, honeymooners and once-in-a-lifetime adventurers, the train is the very stuff of legend. A new departure this year is the early November trip combined with a night at the Venice Grand Ball.
● In addition to London and Venice, destinations served include Verona, Berlin and, once a year, Istanbul. Tickets for the Grand Ball journey, including a stay at the Belmond Cipriani, cost from about £5,000: belmond.com ; luxurytrainclub.com
5) For train lovers the world over this is the ultimate big one – the journey between Moscow and Vladivostok that extends for 6,152 miles and crosses eight time zones. While the regular train takes seven days, the super-luxurious Golden Eagle version of the experience stretches over more than two weeks with stops to explore at Yekaterinburg, Lake Baikal and Irkutsk (the “Paris of Siberia”). There is a particular poignancy to the trip this year: the Golden Eagle is celebrating its 10th year in operation – and it is 100 years since the Bolshevik revolution.
● In July Golden Eagle’s founder Tim Littler will be on board for the President’s Tour on the Moscow to Vladivostok route, during which there will be a gala caviar dinner. From £11,695: goldeneagleluxurytrains.com
Maharajas’ Express, India
6) “Step aboard the Maharajas’ Express and you’ll be transported into a world of red carpets, high teas with maharajas and elephant polo,” wrote Telegraph Travel’s Michael Kerr when he sampled the train considered by many to be India’s most luxurious. In addition to its tours of the country’s “Golden Triangle”, the train this year ventures south with trips through the luscious landscapes of Goa and Kerala.
● The new Southern Sojourn and Southern Jewels tours cost from £6,000: the-maharajas.com
Persia with Portillo, Iran
7) As though travelling through Iran by luxury train were not reward enough, this tour involves a star appearance by Michael Portillo. The politician-turned-TV-presenter comes on board to lend his perspective as the train travels through a country of dramatic desert landscapes and cultural powerhouses such as Tehran, Isfahan and Persepolis.
● The 14-day Telegraph Tour on the Golden Eagle train (see Trans-Siberian) is run by Steppes Travel and departs in April 2018. From £10,999, not including flights: telegraph.co.uk/tt-iranbyrail
Indian Pacific, Australia
8) The Indian Pacific is, at 2,705 miles, the longest of Australia’s two epic train journeys, beginning in Sydney and ending three days later in Perth (or vice versa), along the way passing through the Blue Mountains and the great Nullarbor Plain.
This year it will be 100 years since the rail link crossing Australia was established and to facilitate the celebration, Great Southern Rail, the operators of the train, has introduced the Chairmans Carriage, a large private space containing three double and one twin-bedded Platinum Class cabins as well as a private lounge and bar area.
Sounds like a good idea for a party – and a glass or two of those excellent Australian wines while recollecting experiences along the way that include for the first time this year in Kalgoorlie a theatre production of “Paddy Hannan’s Ounce of Luck”, the story of boom and bust in this mining town.
● The Chairmans Carriage on the Indian Pacific can be hired for exclusive use on the Sydney-Perth routing from AUD$25,000 (£15,600). The train will also be deployed for journeys to some of the cities hosting matches in the forthcoming winter Ashes cricket series. See greatsouthernrail.com.au
Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
9) The dome cars of the enticingly entitled Rocky Mountaineer offer panoramic views of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world on journeys with evocative names such as Journey through the Clouds, Rainforest to Goldrush and the flagship First Passage to the West. As Canada marks 150 years of coming into being, this is the perfect time to step on board.
You may even see a bear along the way too.
● The Rocky Mountaineer operates five rail routes, taking in Vancouver, Banff and Lake Louise, Calgary, Jasper and Whistler. From £950: rockymountaineer.com
Belmond Northern Belle, Chester and Lake District
10) The Belmond Northern Belle, another beautiful evocation of the best of 1930s-era rail travel, is perhaps best known for its fine dining trips involving journeys into the British countryside afording time for leisurely lunches and traditional afternoon teas. This year, in a new departure, the train journeys from London to Chester and on to the Lake District in a four-day trip that will combine time on the train with a stay at the Chester Grosvenor and a day trip to the lakes, with a cruise on Lake Windermere.
● The Chester and Lake District short break costs from £1,495.