Worldwide Rail Journeys

As a four-decade Certified Travel Agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher, and photographer, travel, whether for pleasure or business purposes, has long been a significant plus an integral section of my life. Some 400 trips to every one portion on the globe, by using road, rail, sea, and air, entailed destinations both mundane and exotic. This article targets my worldwide rail journeys.

My Rail Program, spanning the 24-year period from 1995 to 2009, entailed 45 coal mine, excursion steam, narrow-gauge, narrow-gauge steam, cog, short-range, and long-range by 35 rail lines, encompassing 12 countries, eight Canadian provinces, 22 US states, and most 10,000 miles.

Seven long-range journeys in Canada, the US, and Mexico factored into my lifetime rail program. Three of the took place in Canada.

The first, on VIA Rail Canada’s The Ocean between Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia, covered 1,346 kilometers. Paralleling the S.t Lawrence River plus the Gaspe Peninsula, it crossed the cloths line between Quebec and New Brunswick. Traversing its Miramichi Basin, the province’s geographical center, it plied the Moncton-intersecting tracks, crossing the Nova Scotia border. Circumventing Bedford Basin, it closed the gap to Halifax, completing its two-day journey.

The second, this time around on VIA Rail Canada’s Hudson Bay, was obviously a three-day, 1,697-kilometer journey from Winnipeg to Churchill, considered the polar bear capital worldwide. An evening departure first viewed it make a gradual, northwesterly climb, skirting Lake Manitoba and Dauphin Lake, before arcing onto a westerly course and threading its way between Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park and reaching Glenella minutes before midnight.

Penetrating the vast, subarctic tundra expanses over the tree line for many of the second day, it come to Churchill your evening.

A four-day, 4,459-kiilometer eastbound, trans-Canada crossing from Vancouver to Toronto, now on The Canadian, entailed a traverse in the Rocky Mountains through British Columbia and Alberta, after which a prairie-passing through Saskatchewan’s western low lands. Its Activities Car provided a lounge, books, and games, and its particular upper dome afforded magnificent views, in conjunction with croissants each day and hot hors d’oeuvres and wine at night.

Accommodation, just like the other long-range rail journeys, what food was in a private compartment, and meals, detailed on leather-covered menus, were provided within the dining car. One such dinner included chicken and shataki mushroom cream soup with tarragon; mixed greens with vinaigrette dressing and hot dinner rolls and butter; apple- and cranberry-stuffed chicken accompanied by champagne risotto, carrot strips, and asparagus; raspberry-sauce-drizzled chocolate cake; coffee; and chocolate mints.

Traveling beyond the grain field prairies from the western lowlands, The Canadian chugged through undeveloped forest as well as the lakes of Whiteshell Provincial Park because last few kilometers of Manitoba, the province located midway between Pacific along with the Atlantic Oceans, ticked away. By 1630, having crossed the Manitoba-Ontario border between Winnitoba and Rice Lake, the train penetrated the western edge from the billion-year-old Pre-Cambrian Shield, prevalent with glacier-carved lakes.

The lighted Toronto skyscrapers, looming ahead like glittering, jewel-bedecked monoliths, suddenly appeared within the distance, in inverse order to prospects which had receded behind on the beginning from the journey, and grew in dimensions with each traversed kilometer. Now inching toward its eastern terminus at Toronto’s Union Station on target 7 beneath clear, star-twinkling skies and 65-degree temperatures directly in front with the needle-thin CN Tower, The Canadian assumed barely-registerable speed and motion. The tower itself served as both physical and symbolic confirmation with the trip’s completion.

Three long-range rail journeys also was held in the US.

The first, at 361 miles, threaded is a lot from New York’s Penn Station to Montreal since the Adirondack, passing throughout the Hudson Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, and Lake Champlain, before briefly stopping with the Canadian Customs checkpoint of Cantic, Quebec, and after that proceeding through flat farmland well as over the St. Lawrence River to its destination.

A US transcontinental counterpart towards the Canadian one, albeit inside reverse or westerly, direction, simply covering two-thirds on the way, occurred on Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Chicago to Emeryville (serving San Francisco), California. Gliding in the Great Plains of Nebraska on its three-day, 2,438-mile journey, it crossed the Colorado state line and approached the majestic Rocky Mountains, paralleling the snaking Colorado River, and threading its way through chiseled canyons, rust-red rock, and initially small, pine tree-dotted hills. The Continental Divide-crossing Moffat Runnel, at 6.2 miles in total, constituted the route’s longest, and pinnacled for a 9,240-foot elevation.

Accommodation what food was in the Bilevel Superliner’s first-class compartment, meals were inside dining car, and a couple interpretive programs concerning the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains received, whilst the lower volume of its sightseeing lounge and cafĂ© offered fare for tourist class passenger purchase.

Continuing beyond the Great Salk Lake in Utah, it entered California, the seventh and last state on its route. Proceeding through Truckee, it entered Donner Pass and arched its way through its horseshoe curve to your two-mile-long Tunnel 41. Alternatively known since the “Big Hole,” it bored its way over the Sierra Nevada Mountains for a 7,040-foot elevation. Emerging through the mountains with out longer topographically speed-restricted it traveled with the flat tan, brown, and green geometry with the Sacramento Valley till the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and city-signature, pyramid-shaped Transamerica Tower affirmed its strategy to and imminent arrival in Emeryville.

The third long-range US rail journey covered 1,389 miles during its West Coast climb from Los Angeles to Seattle inside the Coast Starlite, crossing the rolling green Santa Cruz Mountains and threading its way through Pajero Gap, before entering the Santa Clara Valley.

A peak with the curtains at 0650 revealed an otherworldly vista sharply contrastive to that from the previous day, leaving you to definitely wonder in case a gap in speed and time had somehow not been landed. The bright blue in the Pacific ended up replaced by volcanic mountain peaks and blankets of snow. A thin line of dull orange, glowing for the eastern horizon, flowed up above the dark, gray cloud obstruction like molten lava, oozing through until it had successfully eaten through its cover and launched a multitude of cold, orange fissures which progressively burned with the otherwise thick, metallic gray insulation. Following the winding tracks through northern California, the silver, bilevel Superliner cars had thread their way through tall, thick pine up to date with 14,162-foot, snow-draped Mount Shasta, the tallest peak from the Cascade Mountain range. Burning with greater fury, dawn’s volcanic eruption lit the sun between two volcanic peaks a fiery orange, spreading its flames over the cloud fabric until it had engulfed it with burning victory. As the light now penetrated the windows from the train, the dual-floored city on the Coast Starlight awoke.

Dinner appropriate included a mixed salad with bleu cheese dressing; Pacific salmon with white wine sauce, rice pilaf, and green beans; cheese cake with strawberry sauce and whipped cream; and occasional.

The Coast Starlite proceeded on the Oregon-Washington state line through Tacoma for it Seattle destination.

The seventh long-range rail journey, from Chihuahua to Los Mochis inside the Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railroad, bored its way through Mexico’s Copper Canyon, its pre-dawn departure inviting breakfast from the dining car. This was comprised of a ham and cheese omelet, french-fried potatoes with peppers and onions, refried beans with cotija cheese, and tortillas and salsa.

Plunging through Tunnel 4, at 4,134.8 feet, the fishing line’s longest and marking another Continental Divide crossing, it subsequently climbed 8,071-foot Los Ojitos, passing mountain and canyon topography.

An overnight remain in a lodge in Posada Barrancas preceded a re-departure this afternoon. The train, descending in to the Santa Barbara Canyon, proceeded with the town of El Fuente, lurching beneath dark, velvet, star-studded skies mainly because it covered the remainder of the distance to Los Mochis. Snagging its brakes at 2205 local time after having a 16-hour, 20-minute journey (excluding the overnight stop). It connected the plains with all the Pacific with the Copper canyon, using what could simply be labeled a feat of railroad engineering.

Although all these long-range journeys employed the “journey will be the destination” theme and were arrive at facilitated research and book,.log, and content creation, several others, while relative short in duration, were taken for pure-travel purposes, for instance those about the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, within the Swiss Federal Railways from Geneva to Lausanne, around the Belgian Railways from Brussels to Bruges and Ghent, for the Moroccan National Railways between Casablanca and Marrakech, about the Bergan Railway from Voss to Myrdal in Norway, and about the Tacna-Arica Railroad from Chile to Peru through the Atacama Desert.

Several short-duration excursion trains were also sampled, such since the Black Hills Central Railroad in South Dakota, the Branson Scenic Railway in Missouri, the Catskill Mountain Railroad in New York, the Mount Hood Railroad in Oregon, the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad on the Nantahala Gorge in North Carolina, the New Tygart Flyer in West Virginia, the Naugatuck Railroad in Connecticut, the West Chester Railroad in Pennsylvania, along with the Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire.

Steam trains also frequently factored into these track-plying journeys. Notable were the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad in California, the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania, the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia, the Western Maryland Railroad in Maryland, the Wilmington and Western Railroad in Delaware, along with the Belvedere and Delaware River Railroad in New Jersey.

There were notable differences, however. The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine train in West Virginia, one example is, bored over the low, dark mine itself, whose oxygen levels were once measured through the strength from the candle flames harnessing them. The Cog Railway, a National Historic Engineering Landmark, clutched, like axel-installed claws, the tracks up New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, sometimes climbing at over 37-degree angles.

Crossing the Appalachian Trail, it terminated in the almost winter-like temperatures and rarefied air from the 6,288-foot White Mountain summit, in which the four states of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York may very well be seen, in conjunction with the province of Quebec in Canada.

Narrow gauge rail journeys were consumed Alaska with all the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad as well as in Snowdonia National Park in Wales while using Ffestiniog Railroad, while steam locomotives coupled with narrow-gauge tracks, included journeys around the East Broad Top Railroad from Orbisonia in Pennsylvania along with the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino through Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina’s Patagonian region.

Finally, one on the most scenic and dramatic journeys occurred for the Flam Railway, was Norway’s major tourist attraction.

Tracing its origins to 1895, when its rail roots were first planted in verbal form, it initially attracted opposition, particularly because its Flam station, located with the end of an fjord, would have been impassable in icing winter conditions. But support originated in Ingolf Elster Christiansen, county governor in Sogn og Fjordane and later on a member of parliament as well as a cabinet minister. The shortest and cheapest rail line, he advocated, can transport products and goods through the Sogn region to eastern Norway, thus removing them from your Bergen market. However, the advent in the automobile prompted many to think about a road better alternative.

On March 1 with the previous year, the Norwegian parliament had already approved construction on the Bergen Railroad from Oslo, but there was clearly no provision to get a branch line extension from using it down the Flamsdalen Valley on the Sognefjord. Its only artery was then a steep, narrow, winding pack horse path.

Ultimately approved, the rail alternative began in 1924 while using manual excavation of 18 of the company’s eventual 20 tunnels, which always began while using drilling of your center hole as well as or three on either of their sides, Its fragments were removed by horse-pulled dumping wagons.

Actual track laying occurred between your summer of 1936 along with the spring of 1940, at which time the Norwegian State Railways issued an announcement that read, “On `1 August 1940, the Myrdal-Flam line is opened for temporary traffic of express goods and freight.”

The following summer it had been officially designated the “Flam Railway.”

Motive traction was steam-supplied, but was quickly transformed into electricity, generated because of the Kjosfossen waterfall inside the very valley it plied.

Today, it could be the steepest standard-gauge railroad in Northern Europe.

Releasing its brakes and inching clear of 865-meter-high Myrdal Station, the train passed via a few snow sheds before plying the 55-percent grade track and offering breathtaking vistas of mountain plateaus and snow-draped Tarven peak.

Boring throughout the Loop Tunnel, which entailed an inside circumnavigation, it adhered for the track that has been built into nothing greater than the mountains’ ledges. A brief alight for the 238-meter-high Kjosfossen Station, certainly one of eleven, offered views in the pounding waterfall, which poured around the craggy, gray and green rock banks, erupting into ethereal mist.

Continuing its journey at no over a 30-kph speed, the Flam Railway passed from the Nali Tunnel, the longest of the fishing line’s 20 at 1,341.5 meters, and, after executing hairpin turns, passed Rjoandefossen, certainly one of Norway’s highest waterfalls that has a 140-meter vertical drop.

Below, across the Flamsdalen Valley’s riverbanks, were the velvet-green fields and orchards with the area’s farms.

Reducing speed, the train pulled into its terminus, Flam, flanked by 1,000-meter mountains and water-accessed because of the blue, mirror-reflecting Aurlandsfjord, itself a branch with the Sognefjord, ending its 20.2-kilometer journey in a barely registerable two-meter elevation.

The town were built with a population of only 400, nevertheless the railroad carried 400,000 passengers each year.