Best train trips: 10 of the greatest rail journeys in the world

From long romantic journeys to super-speedy adventures, here's ten of the best trips you can take by train.

THE TRANS-SIBERIAN, RUSSIA

The longest, most famous train journey of all travels 10,555 kilometres across Russia from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. Russian Railways has spent more than $1 billion upgrading this crucial transportation route. The Rossiya train makes the journey in one go at various price points: private compartments for some, 40-bed carriages for others and steaming samovars of endless tea for everyone across tundra and forest. See trans-siberian.com.au

THE GHAN, AUSTRALIA

The Ghan leaves from Adelaide and pauses at iconic outback destinations such as Alice Springs and Katherine, before arriving in Darwin, taking in an epic slice of outback along the way. In 2015, a new four-day itinerary adds an extra day to the journey for an excursion to opal-mining Coober Pedy. A new Platinum Club luxury lounge and dining carriage will be exclusive to Platinum travellers. See greatsouthernrail.com.au

VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT EXPRESS, EUROPE

In its early 20th-century heyday, royalty, diplomats and the odd spy mingled on this legendary train, immortalised in movies and murder mysteries. Elegance, old-world charm and impeccable service still provide railway romance as you're whisked to cities such as Paris, Venice, Vienna and Budapest. New for 2015 is a Nordic Adventure journey across Europe from Venice to those other canal cities, Copenhagen and Stockholm. See belmond.com

GLACIER EXPRESS, SWITZERLAND

Mountain railways are wondrous for both scenery and engineering. Switzerland's Glacier Express clanks at a snail's pace on a seven-hour journey between the two chic alpine resorts of St Moritz and Zermatt through more than 90 tunnels and across 291 bridges. Plunging valleys, deep gorges and soaring peaks pass by. It's hard to choose between the views of flower-filled summer meadows or icicle-draped winter forests. It's worth doing twice. See glacierexpress.ch

EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS, SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Gleaming green carriages, five-star cuisine, cabins panelled in cherrywood and 24-hour butler service: this is a considerably stylish way to travel past the jungles, rice paddies and sluggish brown rivers of Malaysia and Thailand. The signature four-day journey links Singapore and Bangkok. A new seven-day itinerary stops in the Cameron Highlands and Huay Yang. A new two-night trip now runs between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. See belmond.com

PALACE ON WHEELS, INDIA

India offers a dozen luxury trains, but the Palace on Wheels started the trend. The journey is made in the carriages of former maharajas, the restaurant serves sumptuous calorie-laden cuisine, and staff wear turbans and immaculate white tunics. The round trip from Delhi takes in top Indian sights, such as the desert cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur, the Taj Mahal and tiger-haunted Ranthambore National Park. See palaceonwheels.net

BULLET TRAINS, JAPAN

China's trains are the world's fastest, but Japan's shinkansen, meaning "trunk line", claim the gold standard for safety and efficiency. There's still something futuristic about this 50-year-old train experience, best enjoyed on the Tokyo-Kyoto run past Mount Fuji. A new line through the Hokuriku region opens its second section this year. Japan's next-generation magnetic levitation floating trains underwent track tests in 2013, but travellers will have to wait until 2027 to ride one at 500km/h. See jr-central.co.jp

ROVOS RAIL, AFRICA

This luxury train offers routes around South Africa, such as along the Garden Route, and through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Some are 24-hour rides, but one is a 14-day epic from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. Carrying just 72 passengers, the exclusive train provides 24-hour service and top luxury on rebuilt 1920s carriages. Suites feature private wood-panelled lounges and Victorian-style bathrooms. See rovos.com

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THE CANADIAN

A four-day, cross-continent journey of 4466 kilometres takes travellers between Toronto and Vancouver past lakes, forests and cloud-topped prairies. At Jasper, you're right among the waterfalls and glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, and might even spot elk and bears by the tracks. A $22 million modernisation completed in 2012 includes renovated Sleeper Plus carriages and a new wheelchair-accessible cabin. See viarail.ca

HIRAM BINGHAM EXPRESS, PERU

South America's best rail journey navigates spectacular scenery between Poroy, near Cuzco, and Machu Picchu in Peru. The blue-and-gold trains provide panoramic views of the Andes and wild Urumbamba River, and close-up views of passing villages and llama herds. Gourmet meals on the way to the fabled Incan ruins include a champagne breakfast and gourmet brunch in the 1920s-style dining car. See belmond.com

See also: On board South-East Asia's most luxurious train
See also: The Rocky Mountaineer: An unforgettable journey
See also: On board 'the world's most luxurious train'

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