As governments delay action on climate change, millions of visitors worldwide have resorted to trains as their preferred mode of transportation. Every year, additional trains, new routes, and thrilling new travelling alternatives offer the world’s best train journeys to the daring traveller. Here are ten new, exhilarating rail routes for 2023.
The first high-speed rail service in Southeast Asia will launch in Indonesia in 2023, it is anticipated to connect Bandung, the capital of West Java and the third-largest city in Indonesia, with Jakarta across a distance of around 142.3 kilometres, cutting the current three-hour journey time between two cities to around 40 minutes.
The 142.3-kilometre-long standard gauge line has a top operating speed of 350 kilometres per hour. It is being developed by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China, a joint venture of four state-owned companies in Indonesia, and China Railway International, a division of China Railway Group (CREC), on the same principles as China’s astounding high-speed rail network.
Despite starting in 2016, the Covid-19 epidemic caused a delay in the project’s completion. In November 2022, the railway line trial operations were carried out successfully. By June 2023, the project is expected to be operational.
The high-speed train will stop at four stations: Halim, Karawang, Padalarang, and Tegalluar, with a single depot at Tegalluar. There will be connections to public transportation systems at each station. The trains will carry up to 44,000 people in their first year of operation.
There is no denying that Europe as a whole offers excellent rail service in many of its regions, but in recent years, sleeper trains have been particularly deficient. The need for low-emission, long-distance transportation is growing, and sleeper trains are prepared to fill the void as European nations take action to restrict short-haul flights in the name of sustainability.
The Dutch-Belgian startup European Sleeper will offer the service in collaboration with the Czech business RegioJet, which currently operates daytime and nighttime trains throughout central and eastern Europe. A new sleeper train is being developed by the railway company that will transport passengers from Brussels to Prague in about 15 hours and make stops in Dresden, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
Its refurbished and upgraded carriages are aimed at tourists with varying budgets and will have sleeping compartments, couchette beds, reclining chairs, and modern facilities such as charging outlets and Wi-Fi.
This train line will begin with three weekly trips and will eventually be expanded to daily service. Tickets for this train will go on sale in April, although the price has not yet been disclosed. As the train connects four of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, seats and berths will be in great demand, particularly during the busiest summer travel season for Interrail or Eurail backpackers.
The Rocky Mountains of North America or Europe’s Alpine routes typically come to mind when we think about panoramic trains. However, a stunning new railway line with panoramic trains will start in China in 2023.
Panda Train, which has a capacity of 252 seats and is heading to Zunyi in Southwest China’s Guizhou province, includes 12 carriages, with one super soft sleeper, two advanced soft sleepers, five advanced hard sleepers, one dining carriage, one multi-function entertainment carriage, one caravan carriage, and one power producing carriage.
The panda reserve and the picturesque Mount Siguniang tourism region in Sichuan province are to be connected to Dujiangyan by a $3.1 billion railroad. The meter-gauge railway will climb difficult mountain slopes with the aid of a rack-and-pinion system positioned between the rails, much like its Swiss equivalents.
When compared to regular trains, Panda Train is outfitted with convenient service features, including constant temperature showers, USB charging stations, long sight-viewing tables, song ordering services, audio-visual entertainment, and safe and smart electronic lockers.
The three-class, 145-seat, four-car autonomous trains have huge, curved panoramic windows, sophisticated automation, fault detection, and monitoring powered by 5G and satellite navigation. The first Panda Train journey from Chengdu to Zunyi will take three days and cost RMB 1,280 when it launches on March 28. Passengers can get accommodations, meals, and tickets to scenic sites.
The Tren Maya is a 1,525 km long railway project that would link the Yucatán Peninsula’s popular tourist destinations with Mexico’s main cities. It is also known as the Mayan Train Project, and it will considerably boost transportation and economic growth in the country. The Mexican government started this initiative as a part of the 2019–2024 National Development Plan.
The railway route, which is split into seven distinct sections, will travel via 29 stations in the five major southeast states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo. The project intends to considerably reduce the costs of freight and passenger transportation in the area and promote industrial growth.
42 contemporary multiple-unit trains in three distinct types are being delivered by the world’s largest transport company, Alstom, from its Ciudad Sahagun facility in Mexico. The “Xiinbaal” (walking) basic regular service trains are equipped with expansive panoramic windows; the “Janal” (eating) restaurant carriages include local cuisine; and the “P’atal” (staying) trains are intended for long-distance trips and provide cosy accommodations for both daytime and overnight travel.
The trains will blend history and modernity with a strong sense of regional identity thanks to external colour schemes that draw inspiration from Mayan art and culture and interior designs that are influenced by the Caribbean Sea’s blue.
On December 11, the brand-new Golden Pass Express (GPX) made its inaugural trip from Montreux on Lake Geneva to Interlaken in the heart of Switzerland. Instead of changing at Zweisimmen, travellers can now travel directly between the two tourist destinations and have a convenient journey to Luzerne in the north of Germany. That’s because the new versions can alter their wheel gauge and coach body height to adapt to the various platforms on each side.
The new GoldenPass Express (GPX) connects three of Europe’s most prominent tourist destinations: Montreux, Gstaad, and Interlaken, through a particular route made feasible by innovative trains that can change the gauge of their wheels and the height of their coach bodies. The stunning journey, which traverses central Switzerland against the grain and follows a trade route dating back to the Middle Ages, goes through some of the most stunning lakes, remote valleys, and high mountain passes in all of Europe.
The scenic trip offers three distinct classes to choose from: second class, first class, and prestige class. In prestige class, warm, comfy seats let passengers face the direction of travel and are raised 40 cm (about 15.7 inches) for an expansive perspective of the panoramic vistas.
Amtrak’s improved trains will bring the rail company’s brand-new Amtrak Airo trains, which will start running on routes throughout the country in 2026. According to the company, the new Airo trains will be quicker, travelling at up to 125 mph, and have several conveniences to make the ride more enjoyable for passengers, such as revamped cafe cars, dedicated individual outlets, USB connections, onboard Wi-Fi, and more roomy seats (including moveable headrests and seatback tablet-holders). Along with touchless controls for the restrooms and better lighting.
New Acela trains are also being introduced by Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor route between Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. These trains will include advanced seat reservations for the cafe car as well as contactless luggage storage and winged headrests, which are anticipated to be launched in 2023. The new trains will travel between New York and Washington at a half-hourly regularity during rush hours, allowing Amtrak to boost capacity on the route and accommodate up to 25% more people.
The trains may “tilt” their carriages to give better speeds, more stability, and more comfort on curved portions of the line while still travelling at up to 160 mph (260 km/h) when possible.
The three Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have few rail connections, which limits the availability of sustainable transportation options in those countries. These three nations, which were all parts of the Soviet Union until the early 1990s, have relatively minor rail systems that are predominantly eastwardly inclined and share Russia’s wider-than-average tracks.
The $6 billion Rail Baltica mega-project will enable a rapid link for people and freight between Poland, the Baltic States, and Finland. In the meanwhile, visitors from central and western Europe must rely on long-distance buses and flights to go to these modest but thriving EU members.
However, there is now a daily train connection between Krakow and Warsaw in Poland and Vilnius in Lithuania for the more daring rail adventurer. Polish Railways currently operates a pleasant intercity train up to Mockawa, where there is a direct link with a Lithuanian train to the country’s capital city. However, it is not exactly a smooth connection due to the different track gauges.
This new route from Warsaw to Vilnius takes around nine hours, and tickets cost about $25, or $30, if you’re going to or from Krakow. Currently, connections to Riga and Tallinn are made by bus, but when Rail Baltica opens in 2030, it will completely change how people get to and through these nations.
Nightjet is a global partnership led by BB of Austria. The company’s “new generation” of sleeper trains raises the bar on comfort and seclusion. Ensuite bathrooms, wireless charging stations, and Scandinavian-inspired architecture are just a few of the conveniences available.
As of now, Nightjet provides routes linking Amsterdam and Zurich through Cologne, as well as Vienna, Munich, and Paris. A railroad from Zurich to Rome via Milan will debut in a matter of weeks. A sleeper service between Berlin, Paris, and Brussels as well as one between Zurich and Barcelona, will be introduced by 2024.
33 next-generation Nightjet trains will operate by the end of 2025, bringing much-needed additional capacity, improved comfort, and better privacy. Each new train will include state-of-the-art interior design, including mini-cabins in the form of pod hotels for lone travellers, sleeping quarters with private bathrooms and showers, and a multi-purpose car with safe bike places, room for heavy luggage, and space for winter sports equipment.
If the current Orient Express seems a bit dated these days, travellers have the option of adding Italy’s newest ultra-luxury train to their trip itinerary for 2023.
Six trains will make up Orient Express La Dolce Vita, each of which will include 12 “deluxe cabins,” 18 suites, an “Honor Suite,” and a restaurant carriage that will provide a “five-star dining experience” complete with “award-winning Italian wines and rare haute cuisine.”
When they start accepting passengers in 2023, each of the trains will run between one and three-night excursions across 14 regions and 131 towns in Italy, as well as from Rome to Paris, Istanbul, and the Croatian port of Split.
Around 16,000 kilometres of the railway line will be traversed by the routes, which include trips from Venice to Trieste, through the Dalmatian coast to Split, across the Tuscan hills, and around Sicily. When it opens its doors in 2024, the first Orient Express Hotel, Minerva, located in a 17th-century Baroque mansion in Piazza di Minerva, will allow guests to stay the night.
From January 2023, travelling by train to New Zealand’s off-the-beaten-path locations will be considerably easier. The new multi-day trips, which allow passengers to disembark and take part in guided adventures and overnight stays in various locales, will be introduced by train operator Great Journeys New Zealand.
Itineraries that connect three beautiful train routes—the breathtaking TranzAlpine Panorama Train from Christchurch to Greymouth, the Northern Explorer between Auckland and Wellington, and the Coastal Pacific from Picton to Christchurch—range in duration from six to seventeen days.
Each tour selection and package includes pre-arranged lodging, meals, and activities, as well as picturesque rides across New Zealand’s varied scenery. A tour guide leads visitors on their adventures, giving anecdotes and expanding learning opportunities.
Passengers have the option of taking either the Classic Style Tour or the Signature Style Tour. The Classic Style Tour, which has a duration of 6 to 15 days and costs NZD 2,999 per person, emphasises the main cities and experiences in New Zealand’s core. The Signature Style Tour, on the other hand, is longer and starts at NZD 4,499 per person. It lasts anywhere from 6 to 17 days and includes higher-quality lodging and a variety of cultural activities, such as a signature farewell dinner at Walter Peak.
So, these are the train journeys that you can consider for your vacation in 2023. Plan your trip according to your budget.