Riding the rails is one of the most overlooked and under-rated ways of seeing these amazingly diverse countries. Unlike in the UK, where we regard train journeys as a regular experience - often linked to a fairly mundane commute, a North American rail journey is an event. The stations are often grandiose, historic monuments to glorious pioneering days. Just like in the movies, you'll hear the 'all aboard' call and know you're off on an adventure.
Since beginning operations in 1971, Amtrak’s mission has been preserving the aspects of train travel that are timeless, while modernising where possible. As the USA’s national rail operator, Amtrak connects America with 21,000 route miles in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. With 300 trains operating each day to more than 500 destinations, it’s easy to build a holiday around train travel or add a journey to break up the driving.
The very names of the USA trains and rail journeys conjure something special: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder and Sunset Limited, just to name a few. Every corner of America can be explored north to south and coast to coast with scenes you won't see by any other method of transport. It's a true glimpse in to America's back yard: children waving from front porches, moose drinking from pristine mountain streams, bears in National Parks, surfers along the Pacific coast, cattle grazing under an open sky, families enjoying picnics and baseball in remote fields....
The sheer vastness of Canada's unspoiled wilderness makes a train holiday the perfect choice and there are two options - VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer.
Larger than the USA, with seriously remote territories, it can be said that the construction of the transcontinental railway in the early 19th century spurred the birth of Canada. In 1836, the first public train service began. Something big was happening. Locomotives replaced horses and coaches gradually gave way to automobiles and train cars. The possibilities for Canada were now endless.
Established by the Canadian government in 1977, VIA Rail Canada became the first national passenger rail company – using America’s Amtrak as a template. Today, VIA rail offers journeys across the country including The Canadian. VIA’s flagship service links Toronto to Vancouver crossing Northern Ontario and the Rockies. It is one of the longest train journeys in the world, taking four days to complete. In your Prestige Sleeper cabin, you’ll watch Canada go by in pure comfort.
Rocky Mountaineer, considered to be one of the world's ultimate travel experiences, is Canadian owned and operated. Since 1990, they've welcomed travellers to Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies on four unique routes; Journey Through the Clouds, The First Passage West , The Grand Rail Circle and Rainforest to Gold Rush. Whichever you decide, you’ll not only embark on a holiday of natural beauty, but a trail of history and the rich stories of the inhabitants today.
To include the Rocky Mountaineer as part of your tailor-made holiday to North America contact the experts at Bon Voyage. Or, to order your copy of The Rocky Mountaineer luxury train guide click here.