Insider Tips

Tailor Made Rail Boss Simon Hodge Reveals Ultimate Bucket-List Train Trips

Simon Hodge, Managing Director of Tailor Made Rail, on bucket list train adventures, a magical trip on the Bernina Express and why Michael Portillo would be his favourite travel buddy

Simon Hodge set up his business seven years ago after working for a bigger rail travel agent for five years. His company, Tailor Made Rail is dedicated to helping out couple and individuals looking for personally curated train journeys.

‘We like to put together train trips for the over 50s who are looking to enjoy train journeys around Europe and the rest of the world,’ he says.

Tailor Made Rail Simon hodge
Simon Hodge, MD of Tailor Made Rail

‘Booking multiple trains in Europe so that’s where we can help out. A lot of customers are looking for bucket list adventures like the Bernina Express in Switzerland and Interrail passes too. Our customers also like to book big ticket trains like the Orient Express and the Eastern Oriental.

‘Covid has of course affected our business this year but a lot of our customers have just moved their trips on to 2021 and when the vaccine for Covid finally comes along I think we will see a great resurgence in train travel.’

What’s been your favourite rail journey and why?

The trip I took this summer on Switzerland’s Bernina Express. The line was running open carriages so you got to see the amazing scenery close up and smell all the lovely Alpine flowers too.

Bernina Express Switzerland train
Switzerland’s iconic Bernina Express

Which country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?

Spain – for its amazing high-speed trains and the great food you get served on board.

Have you ever travelled by train overnight? 

Yes, from Hamburg to Basel on a Nightjet service. I had an amazing deluxe double cabin with an ensuite toilet and shower. It was such a treat and I got a great night’s sleep.

Do you remember your first ever train journey?

Yes, I have a distinct memory of my dad taking me on the famous Watercress Line in Hampshire. I must have been two or three at the time. I loved it.

Tailor Made Rail Trans-Siberian-train-lake-baikal
The Trans-Siberian Express travels from Russia to China

Where would you like to travel to by rail?

From Russia to China on the Trans-Siberian Express – it’s a journey I’ve always wanted to do.

Who would be your ideal travelling companion on a rail journey?

Michael Portillo – for his sheer enthusiasm about train travel. If Michael couldn’t make it, then I’d take my good friend Chris who shares my passion for trains.

rail bookers Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo – Simon’s ideal travel companion

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

Getting to meet the locals on the trains. I love seeing what they are wearing, what they are eating and how they travel. You don’t get to see that on a plane. And of course, enjoying seeing some amazing scenery as you sit back in your seat

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

My kindle – trains are a great place to catch up on some good books.

Why are you so passionate about railway travel?

I’ve loved travelling by train since I was young – I think it’s something you can do easily whatever your age and you get to see much more than if you were flying. There’s an increasing awareness of green issues with travellers and people are realising that railway traveller is a great way of looking after the planet. Travel and sustainability – they’re two good reasons to get excited about train travel.

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