Although the automobile has largely supplanted the train as a means of transportation, there is a certain romance and cache about trains that is timeless. After the invention of the steam engine, the first passenger train went into operation in 1825 and opened vistas for people whose travel was usually limited to the distance a wagon could travel in one day (including the return trip home). This meant that most people never were able to go more than approximately 12 miles from their homes. Sleeper cars, also invented in the 19th Century made traveling long distances comfortable as well as easy. Train enthusiasts today encompass not only those who enjoy traveling on historic trains, but also miniature train collectors.
- The Orient Express
is surely one of the most famous trains in the entire world. It’s been featured in books and movies and offers a luxury tour of Europe and the near Middle East. While there are a number of tours, probably the best is the one that runs from Paris through Budapest, Sinaia, and Bucharest to Istanbul. The luxury suites on the train are designed to look like those on the original Orient Express.
- The Trans-Siberian Express
begins its journey in Moscow and takes the traveler on a luxury sightseeing tour through Russia to Vladivostok and back. Not only will the train hobbyist visit some of the most famous cities in Russia and the Far East such as Novosibirsk and Ulan Baatar, but he or she will also travel through some of the most dramatic and memorable scenery on the planet.
- The Peruvian Central Railway
is the highest railway in the world and runs through some of the roughest, but most picturesque areas in South America. At its highest point, the train is nearly 3 miles above sea level. Over 60 tunnels and 40 bridges were needed to attain this elevation, and the train travels from Lima to La Oraya.
- The San Diego Model Railroad Museum in California
is another way for train hobbyists to enjoy their favorite subject. Those who love to see large model train layouts will love the 27,000 square feet devoted to N and HO model trains. The skill and dedication that volunteers contributed to the dioramas will make a visit to this museum a must for any model train enthusiast.
- Miniatur Wunderland
model railway in Hamburg, Germany, is sure to appeal to anyone who loves miniature trains and is traveling to Europe. Once again, the dioramas and layouts are magnificent, often combining water features with the rail lines. Computer controlled, this is probably one of the most realistic model railroads, with the trains interacting not only with airplanes and ground vehicles, but traveling from the Scandinavia to the Grand Canyon.
Regardless of their size, trains and railroads will provide hobbyists an opportunity for new sights and experiences. Trains are not just for people travelling to and from work, they are also for the imagination and a sense of adventure.