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Iconic trains through history

1 September 2017
From modern masterpieces travelling faster than anything else on land, to heritage locomotives that get you from A to B in sumptuous style, there have been countless trains throughout the decades that have won the hearts and minds of their passengers, and we thought we'd share with you our top contenders, in no particular order! 
1) The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express started out life as simply the Orient Express back in 1863, spanning the miles between Paris and Constantinople (now known as Istanbul). From its very first trip it earned a reputation for being sensationally luxurious, with its intricate wooden panelling and silk sheets for each of the 58 passengers. These days its journey time has been reduced from a week to a couple of nights and it no longer offers forays to the edge of Europe, but the level of comfort and opulence hasn't changed, with four-course dinners in elegant surroundings, a baby grand piano to entertain you as you enjoy an aperitif and the height of indulgence - breakfast in bed. 
2) The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express makes regular appearances on 'top train' lists across the internet, and for very good reason. Carving a route across Russia and Mongolia all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok since 1904, this is an epic cross-country experience that provides endlessly differing scenes rolled out past your window. One morning you'll be skirting the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake, the next coming face-to-face with the ferocious Genghis Khan himself - all whilst indulging in fine food and drink. Forget about it being the world's longest railway journey, it'll feel like it's passed in the blink of an eye. 
3) Seen zipping about Great Britain for the past 94 years, the Flying Scotsman is almost as much a national treasure as Stephen Fry and Dame Judi Dench rolled into one. Making the first ever non-stop journey between London and Edinburgh as well as being the first train in the UK to reach 100 miles per hour, it not only earned a special place in the history books, but also in the hearts of the public. It still makes regular appearances, despite officially retiring in 1963 following a restoration project undertaken by the national Railway Museum, and you can find out where it'll be popping up next here - http://www.flyingscotsman.org.uk/events/scotsman-on-the-tracks/
4) Known as the Super Chief during its 1930s hey-day, Amtrak's Southwest Chief still has the ability to take you back in time to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, when the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald used the route as their gateway to Los Angeles. These days, the real celebrity of this trip is the scenery between Chicago and the City of Angels, with views of the mighty Mississippi and the landscape of America's Wild West both taking starring roles.
5) One of the pinnacles of luxury rail travel has to be The Blue Train, which has been whisking passengers 994 miles through diverse South African terrain since 1923, when it ran under the name of the Union Express. After taking a break during the Second World War, it came back on the scene with a new name and a new agenda to become a "magnificent moving five-star hotel". And so it is, with its personal butler service, soundproofed en-suite cabins featuring their own bathtubs, and an impressive roll call of previous passengers that includes monarchs as well as political royalty. Making use of the bountiful land it traverses, once on board you can look forward to delicacies such as Knysna oysters and ostrich fillets as you look out over the savannah. 
6) Japan is country renowned for its technological advances and burst out of the gates when it fired up its very first Bullet Train, or Shinkansen, in 1964. Over the years it has managed to increase its top speed to a staggering 375 miles per hour, a record breaking achievement, and to date has laid up to 1,717 miles of line. Linking major cities from north to south, it has a reputation for being almost brutally efficient, with plentiful services a day, all departing bang on time. As such it has become one of the most famous high-speed services in the world.