Insider Tips

Planet Rail Founder Guy Saunders Shares His Railway Expertise

Guy Saunders is the founder and owner of Planet Rail, the company that specialises in luxury tailor-made holidays by first class rail. Guy set up Planet Rail 12 years ago with the vision of creating a rail specialist tour operator providing outstanding customer service, value and expertise. He lives in North Yorkshire with his partner, Kate and their 18 year old son, Finlay.  

planet rail guy saunders

What’s been your favourite rail journey and why?

Probably for the history, sheer opulence and luxury it has to be the Orient Express train. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been boarding a train.

What country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?

Definitely Switzerland. The rail network is so extensive and beautifully linked to boats, funiculars, and cable cars. There are many stunning scenic journeys to enjoy, including the Glacier Express, Bernina Express and Golden Panoramic Express, as well as the Jungfrau Railway, to the highest station in Europe.

Have you ever travelled by train overnight?

Yes, on numerous occasions. One of my favourites was the Pride of Africa, Rovos Rail, in South Africa from Pretoria to Cape Town, such a comfortable and relaxing journey.

Rovos Rail pride of Africa train
Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa

Can you remember your first ever train journey?

I grew up in London, so my early journeys were all by bus or on the underground, however I remember travelling on the sleeper from London to Edinburgh and that was very exciting as a young child.

Where would you like to travel to by rail?

I’d love to travel across Canada – coast to coast – including the scenery through the Rockies and experience the speed of a bullet train in Japan or the Maglev trains in China.

Who is your ideal travelling companion on a rail journey?

I’m a big sport fan, so any characters from the worlds of football or cycling would be fascinating for me. Closer to home, my brother is always great company.  

Belmond Andean Explorer train
The Andean Explorer: One of Guy’s dream trips

Are there any particular train trips you’d like to take?

I’ve never been to South America, so a journey to Peru including the luxury Andean Explorer to Lake Titicaca and the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu would be fabulous.

What’s the best thing about taking a train journey?

There are so many positives – you can travel from city centre to city centre aspect and the positive impact on the environment. Although, I would say the best things are a mix of local and international travellers and the pleasure of watching spectacular scenery unfold before you as you travel.

What do you always take with you on a train journey?

A good book, a pack of cards and maps to plot where I am going.

Have you ever skipped your fare travelling by train?

Not intentionally, although sometimes there used to be unmanned stations and no working ticket machines. We nearly got in trouble in Switzerland because we hadn’t filled in our rail pass for our first day of travel, although fortunately the train manager was relaxed about it and not a ‘jobs worth’!

What’s the best memory you have of travelling by train?

I have two. The look on my son Finlay’s face (aged 5), as he changed into his pyjamas in the blink of an eye and snuggled up into his sleeper berth on the train from Paris to Nice. The other was sitting outside in the open air at the end of the Observation Car on the Pride of Africa with a cold beer as the veldt stretched out behind and the sun went down.

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