Holidays and Days Out by Train
On this page you will find details of operators who can provide
you with anything from an interesting and unusual day out to the railway
holiday of a lifetime. Which tour you choose depends on what you want from a rail tour.
Whether your penchant is for steam trains, special diesel traction, or exploring unusual
lines rarely visited by passenger trains, there are a wide variety of tours to choose from.
Two of the best known operators of this type of train in the country are
Details of many forthcoming rail tours are published once a month in the fortnightly magazine
Rail, obtainable from newsagents or by subscription. It is also worth keeping an eye on
local media for tours organised by local groups.
Cheap Days Out
The once common special excursion trains to take the family cheaply and easily to the seaside or to historic
cities had all but died out, until the organizers of the enthusiast market realized that they
could provide such services as part of empty or lightly loaded stock movements that they were paying for
anyway. It works something like this: a train starts out from somewhere and heads for a suitable
interesting tourist centre, picking up passengers on the way. The day trippers get off to enjoy
the tourist venue for several hours, while the train picks up some more passengers for an
enthusiast tour round some local branch lines. When the train comes back from its jaunt, the
day trippers get taken home. Both Hertfordshire
and Pathfinder offer this service.
Dining Specials and Luxury Days Out
The experience of sitting in a comfortable railway carriage, being served with good food, while
beautiful scenery passes by your window is second to none. Here are some ways you can experience it.
- Hertfordshire Rail Tours offer a dining
service on many of their trips. The picture above was taken on such a trip, with the table laid
for dinner. In our opinion, these trips represent probably the best value for money in this sector
of the market.
- Pathfinder also offer this
service on some of their trains, but there are in fact very few of these in the current brochure.
- Orient-Express Trains offer The
British Pullman and The Northern Belle. These are extra luxurious trains but,
in consequence, the prices tend to be rather high. A selection of British Pullman trips
also appears in the Pathfinder brochure.
- Many tourist railways offer dining specials at certain times,
Sunday lunch being particularly popular. These can represent very good value for money.
The journeys are often short, but if the food is good, why not...?
- Finally, do not overlook the possibility of eating on normal service trains. This can be costly,
because the few restaurant cars that still operate often require you to hold an expensive
first class ticket before you may use them. But keep yours eyes open for special offers! For example,
on Midland Main Line you can travel
to London and back on a Saturday, with first class seats in both directions and full
English breakfast served at your seat on the outward journey, for very little more than the
price of a normal second class return.
Weekends Away in Great Britain
The prohibitive cost of operating trains with sleeping cars in Great Britain means that
overnight accommodation on these trips is in hotels. This is not necessarily a disadvantage,
because sleeping cars at an affordable price do not generally have large, comfortable beds
and en-suite bathrooms.
- Once again, Hertfordshire Rail Tours
are highly to be recommended in this sector. The tours are generally arranged so that you
take all meals on the train, with a good mix of train travel and sightseeing.
- Regency Rail Tours operate a slightly different system. In general, some meals at
least will be taken in your hotel, and you may even spend a whole day away from the
train. Nevertheless, they are good value and worth considering if this type of
tour appeals to you. Several Regency Rail weekends appear in
the Pathfinder brochure.
- Along Different Lines offers an almost unique service to
the British traveller wishing to visit railways in continental Europe and the rest of the World.
A wide choice of tours is offered, ranging from unashamed enthusiast specials to luxury trips
with first class comfort, special trains and gourmet food.
- Railtours Ireland offers a selection of good value
tourist oriented days out from Dublin to many parts of Ireland, using ordinary service trains.
Holidays by train
- Great Rail Journeys offers a wide selection of holidays
involving train travel, from the fascinating mountain railways of Austria and Switzerland to
internationally famous trains such as The Royal Hungarian Express and El Andalus.
- Ffestiniog Travel offer a wide selection
of rail-based holidays throughout the world. They can also provide rail tickets and reservations
for independent travel in most of Europe and many other countries.
- The famous Venice-Simplon Orient Express
is generally considered to be a journey that any keen rail traveller must make at least once in a lifetime.
Although not cheap, the train can be conveniently enjoyed as part of a package including
one-way air fare and hotel accommodation (with optional extra days) at your boarding or alighting
point. Most major tour operators offer such packages; consult your travel agent.
The Epic Railway Journey
- England to Sweden by Train:
by way of illustration of what can be achieved using
modern rail travel, this is a description of a journey undertaken by us, Glyn and Jennifer
Williams, in the Summer of 2001, entirely by rail, from our home in Derby, England
to Göteborg, Sweden and beyond.
© 2000-2002 Glyn Williams