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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > March 2016 > Ticket in hand, follow the glinting steel tracks to the furthest corners of the globe

Ticket in hand, follow the glinting steel tracks to the furthest corners of the globe

Some of the greatest journeys in the world are those taken by train – here’s our simple guide to getting yourself on the rails
A train skirts Lake Baikal on the Trans-Siberian line in Russia

Beginner’s Guide Railway holidays

How do I get started?

A railway holiday can mean different things to different people. For some, it means swooshing across a frozen continent in a private cabin; to others, clattering across the tropics wedged amongst squawking livestock. But there are joys common to all rail travel: to potter off in search of a dining carriage, make new friends, watch landscapes slip past the window and be lulled to sleep by the rattle of the rails below.

WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE THERE RAILWAYS?

Everywhere – well, every continent except Antarctica. The highest density networks are in the Indian subcontinent, Europe, North America and Japan. It’s worth noting that you should always plan using a timetable rather than a map – a surprising number of the world’s railway lines are closed, infrequent or open to freight only.

WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR RAIL TRAVEL?

There is no simple way of categorising train journeys. That said, most of the world’s most famous luxury rail trips (such as Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and India’s Maharajas’ Express) often share features more typically associated with cruise ships than trains – all-inclusive and full-board fares, optional add-on excursions and private cabins. For most, however, a railway holiday means boarding an everyday, ordinary service shared by locals – be it frst class or third class, sleeper or standing in the aisles, departing for Dawlish, Dresden or Delhi.

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