Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

“Heart of Persia” Placed among 10 Unmissable Train Journeys for 2015

Daily Telegraph’s Adrian Bridge has chosen Ten new or improved rail journeys you must take in 2015.

Heart of Persia” tour operated by Golden Eagle is one of world’s best new train journeys recommended by  Adrian Bridge:

 

10 unmissable new train journeys for 2015

Eurostar to Marseille

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The French connection just got faster: from May 1, Eurostar (eurostar.com) will be offering direct services from London to Marseille (via Lyon and Avignon) that will cut the journey time to just 6 hours 27 minutes. Enjoy a croissant breakfast as the train leaves St Pancras – and a Kir Royale apéritif on the Med. Return fares from £99. On the same route, Planet Rail (planetrail.co.uk) offers return First Class return and four nights’ four-star accommodation in Marseille from £549 per person.

 

Yal Devi (Queen of Jaffna) Express

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The reopening in late 2014 of the Yal Devi (Queen of Jaffna) Express (not pictured) provides visitors to Sri Lanka this year with an opportunity they have not had since 1990: to travel by train from Colombo to Jaffna, a journey that reconnects the two cities that are the heartlands of the country’s previously warring Sinhalese and Tamil populations. There are four services a day in each direction (one a sleeper). For details, see the Sri Lanka Railways site (railway.gov.lk) and the Sri Lanka pages of the Man in Seat 61 site (seat61.com).

Heart of Persia

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In addition to a host of new dates in 2015 for the recently launched Budapest to Tehran route, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains (goldeneagleluxurytrains.com) is this year offering a 12-day Heart of Iran tour aimed at those who really want to get to grips with a country about which it is fair to say there is not always the kindest press. In addition to the capital Tehran, the tour takes in the exquisite domes of Mashad and Isfahan (pictured), the ruins of Persepolis and Necropolis, the 16th century garden of Kashan and the cultural treasures of Shiraz, known as the city of poets, literature, nightingales and flowers. From £9,095 per person.

 

Berlin to Dresden

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The journey by train from Berlin to Dresden (pictured) will have a special special poignancy this year as it comes during celebrations marking 25 years since the reunification of Germany and the beginning of the immense projects of reconstruction in the formerly run-down east. Journey from Berlin to the previously soot-filled (now gleaming) cultural powerhouse of Leipzig and then travel on to Dresden, the magnificent city on the Elbe which phoenix-like has risen from the ashes. See Deutsche Bahn’s English-language website bahn.co.uk for services and prices. Want to stay and linger? Walking holiday specialist Inntravel (inntravel.co.uk) is offering ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’ – a self-guided cultural rail tour complete with detailed walking and cultural notes on all three cities (from £675 per person with six nights’ b&b accommodation). Insider tip: carry on by train from Dresden to Prague through the spectacular Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzterland).

 

Deccan Odyssey

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Ten years after its first entered service, this luxury train service, now being operated by India specialist Cox & Kings, decided to revamp its offering both in terms of the comfort and sophistication of the fittings and fixtures and the service inside and an expanded programme of 10 itineraries for 2015 that go way beyond the train’s heartland of Maharashtra. The titles of the journeys alone are enough to fire the imagination: Indian Odyssey, Golden Treasure, Soulful Quest, Spiritual Sahyadri, Jewels of the Deccan, Maharashtra Splendor, Maharashtra Wild Trail, Indian Soiree, Indian Sojourn and Hidden Treasures of Gujarat. Hold on to your turbans, please. deccanodyssey.com; coxandkings.co.uk.

 

Fast trains in the Orient

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For those wanting to cover more ground in China, new high-speed services have been introduced between Guangzhou and Nanning, and Guangzhou and Shanghai. Guangzhou itself, located on Pearl River and also known as Canton, is just a couple of hours by train from Hong Kong. See the China pages of the Man in Seat 61 site (seat61.com).

 

Slow trains in the Orient

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New this year on the sumptuous Eastern & Oriental Express train that travels through the scenic splendour of south-east Asia is an extended variation of the classic Singapore to Bangkok route. The five-night ‘Fables of the Peninsula’ expedition will be restricted to just 60 passengers and will allow more time for exploration of the many highlights along the way: Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands (pictured), Penang and the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand. Another new route is the two-night ‘Ancient Temples of Lanna’ that links Bangkok to Chiang-Mai. For departure dates and prices, see belmond.com

 

La Trochita (Old Patagonian Express)

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This is hardly a new service but this year marks the 70th anniversary of the completion of the 402-kilometre stretch of narrow gauge railway that runs through the foothills of the Andes between Esquel and El Maitén in Chubut Province and Ingeniero Jacobacci in Río Negro Province. The chugging steam train that plies this route acquired international fame when it was christened The Old Patagonian Express in the 1978 Paul Theroux book of the same name.

 

The 18.15 to Waterloo

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With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo fast approaching (June 18, 1815), the rail specialist Ffestiniog Travel (ffestiniogtravel.com) has devised a 10-day Belgian Transport Extravaganza & Waterloo tour which will involve traversing Belgium by tram, steam train and boat lift, a tour of the battlefield at Waterloo, and an inspection of the Butte de Lion (Lion’s Mound, pictured) and the inn from where the Duke of Wellington prepared for battle. Departing on June 13, the tour costs from £1,195 per person.

 

Eurostar to the future

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Just over 20 years after the first Eurostar trains began services between London and Brussels and London and Paris, the operator will this year bring into service its fleet of sleek Siemens-built e320 trains. The precise routes on which the e320s will run have yet to be confirmed, but the new trains will be able to carry almost 20 per cent more passengers at ever higher speeds (up to 200 mph) and in greater comfort (new features include slimmer ‘reclining’ seats; Wi-Fi will be available throughout). See eurostar.com.

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