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Travel picks: World's top 25 train trips

The United States and Mexico gave way to Norway and Britain this year on The Society of International Railway Travelers' (IRT) annual list of The World's Top 25 Trains Trips.


This state-of-the-art Shangri-La Express's elegant carriages are the latest entrant into Tibet - opened in 2007, the route begins in Golmud, China, following what soon becomes the highest railway line in the world - using pressurised cabins to pass through the 17,000 feet peaks. Whatever your political views, this is one of the most spectacular train trips you can take today.

The list is based on the experience of IRT writers, editors, members and staff, with all trains and the trips meeting stringent standards for service, accommodation, scenery, itinerary, off-train experiences and passenger enjoyment.


Owen Hardy, CEO of The Society of IRT which was set up 26 years ago, said two Norwegian routes appear this year -- the Flam Line, a steep mountain railway connecting a pristine fjord at the tiny town of Flam with Myrdal, a stop on the equally magnificent Oslo-Bergen Railway. New to the top 25 list is the British Pullman, which completes the British leg of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express journeys between Paris and London.


But gone are North America's GrandLuxe Express and Sierra Madre Express which ran in Mexico's Copper Canyon, both closed down currently as victims of the economic downturn.


"The North American train closings had nothing to do with their quality," said Hardy in a statement. "Both were exceptional and extremely popular with American travelers."


Here is the list of the top 25 in geographical order:


North America

1. Canadian (Canada)

2. Royal Canadian Pacific (Canada)

3. Rocky Mountaineer (Canada)


South America

4. Andean Explorer (Peru)

5. Hiram Bingham (Peru)



6. Blue Train (South Africa)

7. Pride of Africa (Rovos Rail) (South Africa)


Asia/Indian Subcontinent

8. Palace on Wheels (India)

9. Eastern & Oriental Express (SE Asia)

10. Shangri-La Express (China)

11. Toy Train (India)

12. Deccan Odyssey (India)



13. Danube Express (Central Europe, Turkey)

14. British Pullman (Great Britain)

15. El Transcantabrico (Spain)

16. Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express (Russia)

17. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Europe)

18. Glacier Express (Switzerland)

19. Bernina Express (Switzerland)

20. Royal Scotsman (Scotland)

21. Flam Railway (Norway)

22. Bergen Railway (Norway)



23. Ghan (Australia)

24. Indian Pacific (Australia)

25. Sunlander (Australia)


Source: Miral Fahmy/Reuters