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LIST: LOCAL RAIL TOUR OPERATORS

These are overseas local specialists operating rail excursions and tours for train enthusiasts and travellers looking for the romance of steam or dramatic rail routes.

NB. You may not enjoy the same level of financial security and protection if things go wrong when you book directly with an overseas company.
American Rail USA Exclusive rail excursions across America in luxury rail carriages (see PVs below).
Blå Tåget Sweden "Blue Train" is a 1960s retro luxury train running weekly (Thu – Mon) from Gothenburg-Skovde-Hallsberg-Stockholm-Uppsala and back, in refurbished carriages with an elegant fully licenced restaurant carriage, and a unique piano bar carriage.
Blue Train, The South Africa Southern Africa's most famous and luxurious train, the Blue Train is 60 years old in Feb 2006. Its scheduled routes run between Cape Town - Pretoria and Cape Town - Port Elizabeth in South Africa itself, but it also operates charter tours as far as Victoria Falls.
Deccan Odyssey India Luxury Train is a joint venture of the Ministry of Railway, Government of India and the State Government of Maharashtra. The train operates a 7-day journey from Mumbai through the kingdom of the Mahrattas.
Discovery Trains Europe Paris-based rail tour specialist offering escorted rail tours for independent travellers and tailor-made train tours for groups & incentive groups, including historic and rare rail experiences in Europe and further afield.
Farr Discovery Tours USA Tours of the America west using by Amtrak sleeper trains.
Great New Zealand Steam Journeys NZ Eight and fourteen day explore-by-rail itineraries on North and South Islands on a historic steam train.
Great Train Escapes USA Eight & nine-day daylight sightseeing tours by rail in New England and Mexico's Copper Canyon.
John Steel Rail Tours Canada Canadian rail tour specialist offering escorted rail journeys on Canada's rail network including VIA Rail's The Skeena, The Corridor, The Malahat, The Hudson Bay, The Chaleur, The Ocean, and The Bras d'Or.
Luxury Trains, The India US-based luxury train agency with a UK point-of-presence (0800 phone number) selling a range of eight luxury tourist train journeys in India.
MAV Nostalgia Eastern Europe Operates heritage railtours throughout Eastern Europe, from the Baltic to the Bosporus, using historic Hungarian rolling stock including steam engines, Nohab diesels, sleeping cars and dining cars. The company also operates the Hungarian Railway Museum in Budapest.
Premier Classe South Africa Luxury rail journeys in South Africa since 2001. A Prasa Rail (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) brand, operating between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth.
Private Railcars USA Private rail car (see PVs below) charters, excursions in the USA.
Rail Ventures USA Rail Ventures operate luxury rail cars on the Amtrak rail network in the USA.
Reef 'N' Outback Rail Tours Australia Fully-escorted rail tours across Australia.
Rovos Rail Southern Africa One of the world's great rail experiences. Rovos, based outside Pretoria, offer luxurious rail tours in a more traditional (more steam!) style than their luxury train rivals in Cape Town (The Blue Train). Their regular rail tours on board the Edwardian steam train Pride of Africa take them on a wide range of routes in South Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, etc) and far beyond, to Victoria Falls, Lusaka (Zambia) and Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania).
Shongololo Express Africa Classic luxury train that tours through seven south African countries
Thalys Europe Thalys operates a network of regular international services between 16 cities including Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Cologne. The claret-coloured high-speed trains link Paris and Brussels in 1h25, Cologne in 3h50 and Amsterdam in 4h11, city-centre to centre.
Trains Unlimited Americas U.S. company specialising in exotic train tours in the USA, Canada, South America and Mexico. They offer their clients Russia and China too, but booked through UK operators.
Transnico Worldwide One-off rail tours worldwide, but Transnico's speciality is rail tours in Cuba.
Trenes Turisticos de LUJO Northern Spain star Trenes Turisticos de LUJO, or 'Luxury Tourist trains' operate three glamorous trains - La Robla, El Transcantabrico Clasico, and the most luxurious of all, launching May 2011, El Transcantabrico Gran LUJO - in northern Spain, with week-long rail cruises through the regions of Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia, Castile y Leon, and Basque country.

Notes

  • You may know what an "RV" is (Recreational Vehicle), but did you know you can also tour the USA in a "PV"? In the first half of this century when rail travel was at its peak, railroad workers in the US called passenger carriages "varnishes" because of all the polished woodwork. Privately owned "varnishes", or PVs, were the epitome of glamorous travel and quite a number of wealthy owners used them to get about in the way that private jets (PJs?) are used now. The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) is a non-profit body of PV owners and enthusiasts who have restored hundreds of elegant sleeper carriages, observation cars and dining cars to their former glory. Many PVs are certified to run on the US rail network attached to Amtrak passenger trains (they may also travel on 'freight' railways and into Canada and Mexico) and, in order to pay for their upkeep and running costs, their owners make them available for charter. AAPRCO has a directory of them on its website.
  • Bradt Travel Guides publish USA by Rail by John Pitt covering 25 long-distance rail journey in the USA and 12 in Canada including such intriguing and evocative routes as The California Zephyr, The Silver Meteor and The Empire Builder.
  • Almost everything you're likely to want to know about travelling on Europe's rail network can be found on Mark Smith's extraordinarily readable Seat61 website.
  • TouristRailways.com is a directory of tourist railways in the USA & Canada... and you'd be amazed how many there are!.

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