6 Thrilling Train Rides You Must Take During Your Travel Abroad
Trains are the underdogs of an international travel routine; they serve quietly in the shadows and never get the center stage to revel. Railway networks are the heart of any country and we at GDA believe our travelers’ experience should be an all-inclusive one! Also, going by the rate at which cabin space in airplanes is being sized down, all we budget travelers having a codependent relationship with a flying coach will be found squatting on flight seats! Yeah yeah, international travel is not doable otherwise. But should you get a chance to travel and explore cross-country in Trains, would you take it?
A way better experience than flying coach cooped up, putting yourself through the agony of hours of boredom; railway journeys take you through beautiful landscapes with ecstatic views. And if you are the kind to whom scenic routes don't appeal much but a danger or thrill factor that gets you rather going, then we have an exciting line up for you! Adventure travelers are always scouring for some new means to make their hairs stand on ends. Thousands of feet above, passing through a deep gorge on a creaky railway bridge, we can just picture you clenching on to the edge of your seat and holding your breath. Exploring these heart-stopping railway routes could just be the gap year worthy experience for you.
Wanna see which dangerous railways routes across the world have made the cut? Read on!
Georgetown Loop Railroad, USA
This route will surely be a major throwback to the railroad history of the USA for you. Back to the wild wild west of outlaws and treasures and when railroad used to be the country’s lifeline. Originally built as a part of a larger line owing to the gold rush and silver boom in the late 19th century in Colorado. Reopened in 1984 after much restoration work this 3ft narrow gauge rail route has come to be a very popular tourist attraction of Georgetown, Colorado. The 4.5 m long route ascends to an elevation of 640 ft passing through mountainous terrain, cuts, and a grand loop. A corkscrew route as called in the builder’s term, there are even some horseshoe turns which will make you clench onto the edge of your seat. The entire journey reaches its height of thrill when it crosses the Clear Creek through the massive Devil’s Gate Bridge. The train drops down to minimum speed while passing through this high bridge which makes for an exhilarating experience.
The Death Railway, Thailand
The Thailand Burma Railway as its originally called was built in 1943 by the Empire of Japan linking Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon (now Burma). If you’re thinking the railway ride has caused many deaths and thus it has gained its name death railway, then you’re wrong. Forced labor, mainly thousands of Allied POWs (prisoners of war) were used in the construction of this railroad and the brutalization by Japanese military officials resulted in the death of over 12,000 of them. It reopened back in 1957 and fast forward a few more decades the restored part of it has become a tourist attraction for Visitors to Kanchanaburi, the province in which it is located. The train doesn’t just thrill you with its morbid name but also take you on a ride of a lifetime. Passing through deep greeneries and mountainous terrains, the train hugs the edges of sheer cliffs and crosses through one too many rickety wooden bridges. Dare if you can to look down below when the rail passes through one of these bridges or when it makes really close curves by the edges of cliffs. One of the famous portions of the railway is the Kwai Bridge or the bridge 277 which has even been immortalized by a book and movie named 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
Chennai-Rameswaram route, India
Located on the Pamban island, Rameswaram is a town of holy significance to Indians due to its mythical involvement in the Ramayana. Located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, it is located at the tip of the Indian Peninsula and share the closest border with Sri Lanka. In a bid to connect this town with mainland South India, Indian Railway commissioned the establishment of the Pamban Bridge which came to be one of the marvels and pride of the country’s railway network. Beyond the captivating backstory, the cantilever bridge is a whopping one and a half mile long, approximately 6776 ft connecting the mainland to the town through the Palk Strait. The bridge seemingly suspended mid-air, it gives ecstatic views of the sea and the islands around. People are often seen crowding on the road bridge that runs parallel to the rail bridge to catch the glimpse of a train passing through the bridge for it is really a sight to behold. Coming down to the interesting point, the location of the bridge is one of the highest wind points in a cyclone-prone zone with high wind velocity. There’s even news of a 25 ft storm that struck the nearby town and the bridge in 1964 and wiped out an entire train with all of its passengers. So are you ready for crossing the famed Pamban bridge on a train?
Tren a Las Nubes, Argentina
The name itself literally translates to ‘Train to the clouds’ owing to it being one of the highest railways in the world, the Tren a Las Nubes is definitely one of the most hair-raising rail rides that there are. Though originally it was built for connecting North Argentina with Chile, now it serves mainly as a heritage railway service for tourists and travelers. The train takes passengers to an escalation of 13, 850 ft from the sea-level, up the Andean Range passing through some breathtaking mountainous terrains. The entire route consists of a total of 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals and 2 zigzags. With a round trip lasting around 16 hours, the train has been equipped with dining car, bar carriage, first aid area etc. The highlights of the trip are definitely the La Polvorilla Viaduct and the Zigzag tracks. Climbing onto almost vertical cliffs, the train passes through zigzag tracks across cliff faces. The La Polvorilla pass is the highest in the entire ride and the titillating point of the ride that will make heart thump faster. And when its extreme heights with high-wind locations, your adrenaline levels are sure to be spiked! Either embrace your acrophobia or don’t look down, you might get dizzy!
Nariz del Diablo, Ecuador
The dramatic name of ‘The Devil’s Nose’ sits really well with the dramatic ride that this route takes you on. The Devil’s Nose section of Ecuadorian Railway is run as a tourist attraction starting off from the town of Alausi which is a bus ride away from Riobamba, it takes you to Sibambe through some treacherous passes and turns that will enliven the thrill seeker in you. This train ride through the Andean Highlands in Ecuador takes its passengers up to a great height of 9000 ft above sea level making it one of the steepest rail rides in the world. When it reaches the Devil’s Nose mountain the train zigzags down from an elevation of 7545 ft to 5905 ft. The view of lush greenery and colorful villages along the way keeps you captivated while the dramatic route and the dangerous ascent keeps you on the edge of your seat. Earlier on passengers were allowed to ride on the roof of the train which further added to the danger of the ride and many have even said it to be one of the most dangerous train rides in the world. But don’t you plan on anything like that because it isn’t allowed anymore after two tourists lost their lives in an accident with a dangling cable. But don’t worry, the ride is equally fulfilling from the comfort of the seats inside.
Minamiaso Railway Route, Japan
Have you ever thought of passing through an active volcano area while traveling on a train? Well, do give it some thought the next time you’re visiting Japan. A very short but really scenic train ride through Japan’s natural abode, the Minamiaso Route runs along the southern part of the Mount Aso Caldera, one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world. One can never predict when suddenly an eruption can happen. The uncertainty and the thrill make it a top runner in the lists of most dangerous and thrilling railway tracks in the world. That’s not all. The passage through Tateno bridge offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountainous terrains and the beautiful forests along its slopes. A train ride through an active volcano is certainly a Bucket-list kinda activity and is sure to make your travels to Japan more accomplishing.
Now that you’ve downloaded all of the most dangerous rail rides that are out there what’s stopping you from hopping onto a train and exploring them yourself? GoDiscoverAbroad provides specially curated adventure activities and travel programs for volunteering travelers, gap year students in all the countries listed above. So, your railway adventure is really just a click away. Follow your YOLO motto, pick your destination and book your trip with us TODAY!