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Local Transport Around the World: Trains on the Right Track

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train in Lithuania

Siaurukas Narrow Gauge Railway in Lithuania

Siaurukas Narrow Gauge Railway in Lithuania

“In 1899, a narrow-gauge railway was introduced in Lithuania; it soon became the main means of transport for people and goods like flaxseed, butter, flour, sugar-beet, wood, meat and sand. Farmers also used the line for transporting coal, oil, fertilizer and salt. Nowadays, this conveyance is no longer used industrially. It’s a piece of nostalgia and Lithuanian cultural heritage that offers a leisurely ride for tourists and locals alike.”

~ Kestas Lukoskinas, the whl.travel and Green Path Transfers local partner in Lithuania

train in Darjeeling India

The Toy Train in Darjeeling, India

Toy Train in Darjeeling, India

“I remember as a child hanging on to the railing bar of the train and the fresh crisp wind brushing my face during the winter months when I travelled on the Toy Train to my friend’s place I visited every weekend. The pieces of red-hot charcoal flew onto my head burning my hair.

Things look a little different now since the open spaces have been blocked by the increasing number of little homes along the railway’s lines, adding rather unique features to this little train line that was built by the British during 1881. It is an engineering marvel: the train makes a full loop on one of its turns! A real-life Little Engine That Could this steam train chugs its way up the hill to an elevation of 2,225 metres at the Ghoom railway station.

I’m proud of my childhood memories and lessons of daily perseverance learned from this train.”

~ Pravin Tamang, the whl.travel local connection in Darjeeling, India

Viceroy Express in Sri Lanka

The Viceroy Express in Sri Lanka

The Viceroy Express in Sri Lanka

“The Viceroy Special is an enchantingly nostalgic way to view Sri Lanka. The ethos behind this commemorative steam train that harks back to the days of British colonial rule and even runs on the 19th century lines put down by the British is very much about a return to when travel by rail was something to be cherished rather than endured.

There are two air-conditioned carriages with white-glove table service and a cocktail bar. To celebrate 25 years of service, the Viceroy will be making a host of special trips this year, including its trek from Colombo to the bedazzling Hill Country, one of the world’s great rail journeys. The sense of history is tangible as you wind through the tea estates and plantation houses and there is the omnipresent sense of travelling through a land that has barely been touched by modernisation.”

~ Kemin Perera, the whl.travel local connection in Sri Lanka

bamboo train in Battambang Cambodia

The Bamboo Train (Nori) in Battambang, Cambodia

The Bamboo Train in Battambang, Cambodia

A highlight of any visit to Battambang is the quasi-famous Nori, or Bamboo Train, a rickety transport that was originally used to deliver coffee and bananas to Phnom Penh but now carries tourists. Running at low speeds (up to only 10 kph), it is the perfect platform from which to take in Battambang’s countryside.

Mandalay to Hsipaw Railway in Myanmar/Burma

The Mandalay to Hsipaw Railway in Myanmar/Burma

Mandalay to Hsipaw Railway in Myanmar

As you chug over the Gokteik Gorge on the rail line from Mandalay to Hsipaw, you are rattling in the tracks of part of American author Paul Theroux’s bizarre train journey recounted in The Great Railway Bazaar. During the ride, if you feel like the train’s open windows don’t give you quite enough breathing room, climb over the crowd lining the aisles to get to a seat with a little more ventilation: the roof. Climb up between the cars and across the top at snail speed only to marvel at vendors walking upright with full loads of goods for the full length of the swaying wagon. When you’ve had enough, climb down to the somewhat safer but ultimately less exciting seat you vacated.

~ Read more in Local Travel in Myanmar with the Wind in Your Hair

Expreso del Sur Train, Uyuni, Bolivia

Expreso del Sur Train, Uyuni, Bolivia

Expreso del Sur in Bolivia

“Travellers who are on the way to the must-see salt flats Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia often opt to reach the gateway town of Uyuni by train. Bolivia’s train line, Ferrovaria Andina, extends from the small city of Ururo all the way down south to the border town of Villazon. The most popular stop, of course, is Uyuni, where a host of tour operators are waiting to offer you several-day packages through the surreal landscapes of the great salt flat and beyond.

For train enthusiasts, one of the best stops along the tour is the first one: the train graveyard. Here, the guide tells you about the train line’s transition from steam-powered engines to fuel-powered ones in the 1960s. As a result, several entire trains and a segment of track were abandoned at what is now a testament to the past and an eerie photo opportunity for the jeeploads of tourists who pass through daily.”

~ Cynthia Ord, Project Manager at WHL Assist

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+ GO TO THE LOCAL TRANSPORT MAIN PAGE
+ GO TO THE NEXT ‘LOCAL TRANSPORT’ SECTION: BICYCLES WORLDWIDE

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