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Question. Will British Coilumbia's world famous Royal Hudson be back in service for the 2010 Olympics ?

I've been a railway fan since taking that first exciting journey via Lake Bennett and Alaska's Sawtooth Range, from Whitehorse, Yukon to Skagway at five years of age. On South Africa's Rovos Rail, and the Marrakeche express, I felt a similar thrill. Great rail tours . Railways of World . British Columbia

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All aboard for adventure and romance on the rails!
by Jerry W. Bird

Jerry W. BirdSince my very first trip on the White Pass & Yukon Railway, via Carcross, Lake Bennett and the Sawtooth Range, I've been fascinated by rail travel. At the time, it was the vital link from Whitehorse, at the headwaters of navigation on the Yukon River, to Skagway, Alaska, where the Canadian Pacific Coastal fleet plied the Inside Passage and Alaska Panhandle to Vancouver and Seattle. It's rated as #8 in the world on the Top 10 Railway Trips listed below. Thanks to this love for Railroads and their place in Canadian history (including my own family roots), I have researched and written volumes on the topic. The first series effort was "Railways of the World" launched in 1989 and appearing in national and regional media.

Thanks to Vancouver's Expo '86 success and the Canada-USA Open Skies agreement, the Alaska Cruise industry was on the brink of a major breakthrough. This combination would impact British Columbia tourism in a huge way. While most so called experts didn't even consider the point at the time, railway travel would soon follow in the wake of the cruise industry boom. Only a few leading edge firms realized what opportunities lay ahead. Among this noble group were Rocky Mountain Railtours and BC Rail, whose Royal Hudson is known the world over. They became my very first advertisers in what would soon become an avalanche of support worldwide. Since the late 80s many marvelous things have happened, leading to our newest magazine series and book ... "Adventure Rails."

Quick Now! Name the Top 10? According to the Society of American Travel Writers the following were selected as the World's Top Ten train trips:

1. Arizona to Northwest Mexico: The Sierra Madre Express passes from tropical coastal valleys to a high plateau, via the gorges and raging rivers of the spectacular Copper Canyon. (see Adventure Rails)

2. Switzerland's Glazier Express: The train passes through 91 tunnel and over 291 bridges. The famous line operates between Zermatt and St. Moritz, in the Swiss Alps.

3. Banff and Jasper, Canadian Rockies: From Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer. See the story on Adventure Rails page. 4. Europe's famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Enjoy 5-star service, great food and scenery (details to come).

5. Peru's Cuzco-Machu Picchu : Watch for the story of this unforgettable 4 hour trip, high in the Andes Mountains to the Incas lost city.

6. South Africa's Blue Train: Luxury service on a 1,000 mile line from Pretoria to Cape Town, via the Karoo Desert and Kimberley diamond fields. Seed our Africa Travel site.

7. Colorado's Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. One of the first in our series, this railroad this narrow-gauge railroad dates back to 1881. Steam locomotives power the train on a 45 miles run linking two mining towns of the Old West.

8. Alaska's White Pass & Yukon Route. The railway built of gold was launched in 1898 during the Klondike stampede. See Adventure Rails.

9. Paris to Geneva TGV . We had a taste of it last spring. (see Adventure Rails) As the world's fastest train, it glides at speeds of up to 269 km per hour (167 mph).

10. Egypt's Nile Valley Express and Scotland's Royal Scotsman. Tied for 10th spot. More to come on both of these great rail journeys.

Honorable mention: India's Darjeeling Himalayan Railway; Toronto to Vancouver VIA Rail trip; Switzerland's Jungfraubahnen, Japan's Tokyo Bullet; Russia's Moscow to St. Petersburg train; Norway's Bergen to Oslo train.

And we have a few of our own as you'll soon find out.

Send your train items to us at: airhwy@dowco.com 

My love affair with trains began early.

Jerry W. Birdby Jerry W. Bird

I've been a railway enthusiast since taking that first exciting journey on the White Pass & Yukon RR via Lake Bennett and the Sawtooth Range, from Whitehorse, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska at five years of age. In Africa, riding from Marrakech to Casablanca, Morocco and Rovos Rail from Cape Town to Pretoria, South Africa, I felt a similar burst of enthusiasm. That's the magic of rail travel; it stokes the fires of imagination at any age. In the late 80s my defining moment arrived - an opportunity to share such feelings with a large audience in a series I called “Railways of the World. " Features and items on the subject have since appeared in magazines and newspapers from North American to Africa. Many focus on specific journeys such as Amtrak, Via Rail Canada and Rocky Mountaineer; others relate to the interconnection of railways with cruises or parallel highway routes. Good examples from our magazines and web sites are the Trans Canada Yellowhead , Cariboo Gold Rush Trail, and Royal Canadian Pacific (see map) from Calgary via Kicking Horse and Crownsnest pass. Here are a few capsules from the series, which is a never-ending labor of love. One of the highlights of my most recent return to Calgary and Alberta's Foothills Country, was the opportunity to visit a grand new 'Railtour' product being introduced by Canadian Pacific Railway, adjacent to the elegantly refurbished Palliser Hotel. Here we were given a private tour through the museum facilities and the various railcars that have been beautifully restored to carry tourists and corporate parties on the 'trip of a lifetime,' through the blue Canadian Rockies. Do you have an item about rail travel or photos you wish to share with our readers? Do you represent a railway or rail tour company in any part of the world? Please e-mail us - airhwy@dowco.com .

Siera Madre
The Charm of Old Mexico
via Copper Canyon

Since our rail travel features first starter appearing in newspapers and magazines, one railway tour that has attracted the most response from readers is the Sierra Madre Express of Tucson, (above) which winds its way from Arizona into Mexico's spectacular Copper Canyon.

Franco-Ethiopian Railway to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa
Given Aladdin's 3 wishes, I would restore Emperor Haile Sellasie's 'Lion of Judah' railway engine, hook it up to the prized set of French and British coaches, and operate luxury excursion tours on the Franco-Ethiopian Railway line. Built in the 1930s, the 482 mile route stretches from Addis Ababa, via Nazaret, the Rift Valley and Dire Dawa, to Djibouti, a French protectorate on the Gulf of Aden.

Make Canada's elegant Railway Castles part of your
Grand Railway Tour:
? It's on our agenda. In my book of fondest memories, a Christmas - New Years fortnight at the Banff Springs Hotel, and a week at Chateau Lake Louise rank high. Here in the Canadian Rockies this pair of European style castles reek of elegance from the grand old days, when the world's rich and famous arrived by train, making these grand resorts their private playground.
American Spirit Rail rediscovers the Old West: From Montana via Great Falls, Helena, Glacier National Park , Kalispell, Couer d'Alene, Idaho and Spokane to Seattle. America's best daylight train journey.

Ontario Rails to the Great White North: From Lake Ontario to James Bay on the Arctic Coast, Ontario Northland Railway, the Little Bear and Polar Bear Express, offer a uniquely Canadian experience. This popular "Northern Rails" tour begins at Toronto's famous Union Station, next to the Royal York Hotel, with connections to North Bay, Temagami, Cobalt and points north.

Trans-Siberian Railway and Great Silk Road: Any time I think of the great Trans- Siberian Railway, as if by magic, sweeping images from Doctor Zhivago (the movie) start to appear on the theater of my mind . I can almost hear 'Lara's Theme' on the balalaika and the tinkle of sleigh bells in the background.

Blue Train with 'White Glove' Service? Only in South Africa!
by Muguette M. Goufrani. For years I had read that South Africa held many pleasures for those of an adventurous or romantic nature, so one summer, taking a month's vacation from my job as a travel agent in West Africa, I headed south. Here at last was my chance to spend some leisurely, laid back weeks getting to know that fascinating country.

Street Cars and Street Smarts: Vancouver's Railway Renaissance: Historic Street Cars at Granville Island. It's about time! Like many Canadian cities, Vancouver is a child of the CPR, which was British Columbia's one way ticket to Confederation in 1867.

Choo Choo through Calgary's Heritage Park: Canada's largest historical village: Being in Calgary for Heritage Park's opening, and sharing its pleasures with my children, guests and clients on countless occasions, the park was a 'must see' on this summer's return trip

Whistler Northwind: Howe Sound, Fraser Canyon, Cariboo, Prince George. Is Prince Rupert next? The Whistler Northwind Vacation Packages begin in May 2001 and the route shows promise of becoming a very popular option for those of us who get white knuckle syndrome from driving the Sea to Sky Highway in winter.

Vancouver's SkyTrain, SeaBus and a Shopping mall 15 miles long: Remember the grand old department stores of yesteryear - where a pert, petite, uniformed elevator operator sang out the stops as you rose at a stomach- churning rate? So, it was only Woodwards Department Store, but in your 12 year old mind it felt like you were zooming to the top floor of the Empire State Building. Continued.

Amtrak across the USA and into Canada: Fly-Rail Vacations are an ideal choice for vacationers and business travelers who share our viewpoint - that getting there is often more than half the fun. We've enjoyed the "Amtrak Experience" on the Pacific Coast, from California to British Columbia and count this as one of our decade's highlights.