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Regardless of which continent you're on, there is nothing more romantic in travel than a long train ride.
At its best, rail travel offers the languor of a cruise with the new-sight-a-minute views of a road trip - without having to keep your eyes on the road.
The route from Vancouver to Jasper in the Canadian Rockies is called “the ski train'' in winter. Come summer, the 1950s dome car features views of pine forests, vast lakes and some of the tallest peaks on the continent. You can explore the Rockies, continue on to Edmonton or as far as Toronto without changing trains.
This epic train trip from Sydney on the Pacific Ocean to Perth on the Indian Ocean covers 4351km. It includes a 478km section across the Nullarbor Plain that is the world's longest straight track.
Favourite stops: Broken Hill, Adelaide and Kalgoorlie. Another option: The Ghan, which goes north-south between Darwin and Adelaide.
It's become passe to take the half-hour hurtle under the English Channel between London and Paris or Brussels. But for those of us who remember when you could go only by air or green-face-inducing ferry across the choppy seas, it remains a marvel.
The recent upgrade of tracks in Britain has shortened the trip by 20 minutes, and the switch from modern Waterloo Station to the gloriously restored red-brick Victorian St Pancras Station makes entering London one of the great rail experiences in the world. Wish I could say the same about the scruffy, distant Gare du Nord in Paris. But, hey, it still gets you to Paris.
The Nozomi 500 bullet train is the fastest in Japan, and its bullet-nosed front with the jet fighter-like bubble cockpit is unlike any in the world. But you can't ride it if you are on the JR Rail Pass unless you pay a premium. The slower - and that's only a relative term - Kodama and Hikari trains make more stops, but still speed you around the country.
The most popular high-speed line for European tourists, these French trains will move you around the country in a matter of hours.
To have a wonderful lunch at the Belle Epoque Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon, then get on a TGV to be in Lyon in less than two hours, is a mix of the best of old and new train worlds.
The Norwegian train from Oslo to Bergen is the highest main-line rail route between two cities in Europe. The route from Oslo to Bergen would make any top 10 list in the world, and that's not all - passengers can take the wondrous scenic spur line from Myrdal to Flem, which includes a ferry and a bus trip to reunite with the train further down the line.
Rovos Rail, South Africa
A luxury train that operates throughout South Africa and sometimes to the north.The carriages beautifully represent colonial-era comforts. It's a retro counterpoint to the modern Blue Train, considered by many to be the finest scenic train in the world. Rovos' excursions have included an epic trip to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border, and then on to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Sunset Limited, US
A favourite in the winter, rolling south through the great deserts, skirting the Mexican border by mere metres at El Paso before rolling past Big Bend National Park and the famous eastern Texas town of Marfa, and over the highest railway bridge in the United States, which passes over the Pecos River. AP - The New Zealand Herald