You may find that some of your preferred hotel and flight booking websites don’t have a train option. If they do, it may only be for one or two countries. There are specialist websites that make light work of booking tickets, and getting the right tourist passes. For basic journeys you may find it easier to go direct to the rail company’s own website.
No longer just about trains, this company now offers luxury adventures around the world. There are still some train journeys on the iconic train, but hopefully without any murders (sorry, I had to).
Rail Australia is an alliance between Australia’s major tourist-oriented rail operators. From this website you can access all the member websites.
CountryLink provides long distance passenger rail services, supported by an extensive coach network. Their fleet of XPT and XPLORER trains and road coaches provide services to more than 360 destinations throughout New South Wales and to interstate destinations including Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne.
Great Southern Rail
Great Southern Rail operates four trains: the Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin), The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide), The Southern Spirit (2 Transcontinental Journeys). Their aim is to offer unique and memorable outback adventure experiences with all the comfort and service synonymous with two of the world’s great train journeys.
Queensland Rail Travel claims to have the largest and most comprehensive network of long distance and tourist trains in Australia.
Transwa is the Western Australian Government’s regional public transport operator, and has more than 275 destinations in the southern half of Western Australia.
This website is a comprehensive guide to the Canadian rail network. One of the best services of this network is that in some areas you can arrange to stop the train between stations. This is great for those who really want to get away from it all. This site does not include the famous tourist trains that run across Canada. Although, if you travel across Canada using VIA Rail, you will get to travel with the locals.
Trains and holiday packages for those who want to travel across Canada by luxury train.There are four distinctive rail routes, rich in natural wonders, through British Columbia and Alberta. The trains have various classes of travel, the more you spend the better the view from your seat.
SNCF Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français
SNCF is France’s national state-owned railway company. It operates the country’s national rail services, including the TGV, France’s high-speed rail network, and the overnight and local services.
Deutsche Bahn is responsible for the running of all German Intercity-Express, EuroCity, Intercity and Regionalbahn trains, and many commuter-oriented urban Stadtschnellbahn (S-Bahn) metros. This is an excellent website for finding train timetables for Europe, including small towns and international connections. You can print just the train schedules you need. There is also the DB Navigator app so you can check train times using your mobile phone.
India is home to the world’s largest railway system.
India Rail is a travel agency, so it concentrates on rail packages. It is a good website to visit for ideas.
Indian Railways carry over 11 million passengers per day. This website provides timetables, availability and fares for up to 3 months in advance. It also covers the various passes that are available to foreign travellers. To book online you have to visit another website – www.irctc.co.in
Most of this website is only in Italian, but the search functions are available in English. From here you can book intercity, local or international journeys.
The national rail network is split into six different regional companies. Passengers may travel across several regional companies without having to change trains and without purchasing separate tickets. Although the number of trains that do run between the regions has been reduced over the years.
The companies are:
Central Japan Railway Company
This network is based in the Chūbu (Nagoya) region of central Japan.
East Japan Rail Company
The East Japan Rail Company covers the Greater Tokyo Area, the Tōhoku region, and surrounding areas.
Hokkaido Rail Company
This network is based in Hokkaido, the second largest island in Japan.
Kyushu Railway Company
This company operates intercity rail services in Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan.
Shikoku Rail Company
This network is based on the island of Shikoku.
West Japan Rail Company
This company operates in western Honshū.
This is the Spanish state owned rail network. Not every information page has a version written in English.
This is the high speed link between London, Paris and Brussels. It also connects to Disneyland Paris and to over 100 other destinations across Europe.
The National Rail Enquiries website can help with any passenger rail enquiry for travelling on the National Rail network in England, Wales and Scotland.
This is the last full-service train service in the USA. It uniquely carries both freight and passengers throughout its system. It doesn’t cover the whole state; it connects Alaska’s two largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks. It does also go to Denali National Park, which is the home of the tallest mountain in North America.
This is the website of the US national rail network. When buying a ticket the delivery option is available to addresses in the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii and Canada. The other option is to use Quik-Trak, which is Amtrak’s self-service ticketing kiosk. Unfortunately, these kiosks are not available at every station.
Rick Steves’ Europe – Eurail Passes
This is an American website, so the booking options may not be of much use to you. However, this is a great source of information on rail travel across Europe and the various types of tickets that are available. If you’re not sure what you need, visit this site to help you plan. It has a really useful summary of what countries, or where in a country, you should explore if you have limited time.
Inter Rail Passes allow you to travel in 29 European countries and Morocco. This massive area is divided into 8 zones. The passes can be for use in 1, 2 or all the zones. They are valid for 16 days, 22 days or a month. There may be supplements for some intercity or high speed routes.
Rail Europe is the UK arm of SNCF. This website is useful for planning trips (major city to major city) across Europe. It also offers some local journeys in Europe, as well as rail passes.
Thalys International provides passenger rail transport services on behalf of the Belgian, French and Dutch railways to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne.
The Man in Seat 61
This site was put together by a former British Rail station manager. It aims to help travellers who want to travel by train or by ferry, but don’t know how to go about it. It only supplies information, you cannot book tickets. To book you have to follow links to commercial websites. Some may find the amount of information shown on each page overwhelming. The text is quite small and you may need to adjust your web browser settings.
Most major cities and large towns have a local rail service. These are known as metros, subways, or in the case of London- the underground or Tube. You can book tickets and passes online, but the most useful functions of a metro website are the route planners or maps.
This is a website that gives a general overview or metro systems around the world. It also has links to other relevant sites. This website is similar to Seat 61 as its run by an enthusiast.
Major Metro Systems