What are Tim Dunn’s favourite train trips and rail memories? Here the The Architecture The Railways Built host reveals his love of the Ffestiniog Railway and why he loves sleeper trains.
What’s your favourite rail journey?
A trip on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales. I’ve been travelling on it since I was about five. It’s great fun, the views are amazing and you can just sit on it with a gin and tonic or a cup of tea and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
I also love the Sóller Railway that runs from Palma in Majorca to Sóller. It is one of the under sung railways of the world. It climbs up the hillside from the capital Palma and you can stand on the back platform with a drink in hand. You get great views among the orange and lemon groves. Then you take a horse tram down to the port. I can’t recommend it enough.
Which country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?
Switzerland. It has amazingly varied scenery – all Alpine of course. I have been on about twenty trains in Switzerland including the fantastic Bernina Express. You can plan some very interesting journeys here.
What’s your favourite overnight train journey?
I have never travelled across Europe overnight. But I’ve travelled on the Caledonian Sleeper four or five times and also the Night Riviera. My favourite overnight train is the Fort William sleeper. I love the camaraderie of the train. It’s like a budget version of the Orient Express! By the evening everyone is a bit chatty – especially after a few whiskies in the bar.
My tip is to travel on a sleeper train on a Friday night. It’s much more fun that on a Monday night.
What was your first ever train journey?
I can remember early train journeys from Gerrards Cross to Marylebone in the early 80s. I have always been fascinated by trains and I had my first train set was I was two – a pop-up train set. Then my train sets just grew – all across the house and across the garden too. I still have train sets. I have a ride-in train that carries sixteen people. Of course, I keep that in storage. I still collect trains, a lot of Hornby stuff.
Where would you next like to go by train?
I’m desperate to travel to Vienna overnight on a Nightjet train. So, my first trip will be from Brussels to Vienna. I really like the fact that companies are seeing the potential of night trains. After all, why not combine a train with a hotel?
Who is your ideal travel companion?
I actually like travelling by myself. Then I don’t have to explain what’s coming around the corner. But usually, I travel with a friend or my partner. One of my best friends and I have a yearly tradition. We like to do a train trip every year between Christmas and New Year around the UK. Part of the deal is that we always travel on a steam train to get to the hotel we are staying at.
What’s the best thing about travelling by train?
All the possibilities it gives you. When you travel by train you feel partly out of control, yet also in control. You are letting someone drive you somewhere you may never have been before but you know you are going to get there.
Trains go everywhere so you can go to so many places. That’s why I like Rover tickets. And if you’re travelling by train on holiday you know you’re off to somewhere exciting.
Which big rail trips would you like to do?
Top of my list would be a week in Switzerland travelling on all the trains with an old friend. Summer would be a good time to go because certain routes only operate in summer time. Top of my list would be the Furka Steam Railway.
I would also love to do a journey on the Ghan. Imagine seeing the Australian Outback on a train – what an amazing journey that would be.
What do you take with you on a train?
My iphone and my camera. I love taking photographs of rail journeys. I like to share my photos afterwards with others to inspire them. I have been known to ask my fellow passengers to move so I can take the perfect window shot!