Next year is shaping up to be one of the best years for railway travel. From all the buzz surrounding the European Year of Rail, to Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ super luxe new suites, faster Amtrak trains and a major new exhibition that celebrates the iconic Trans-Siberian Express, there’s never been a better year to get on board….
1. The European Year of Rail
The European Commission has made 2021 the European Year of Rail. Throughout the year there will be events, campaigns and initiatives to promote railway travel as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport. We’ll be keeping you posted throughout the year on this fantastic initiative.
2. Greece is the word
In 2021 Eurail’s Greek Island Pass will give train travellers more flexibility and freedom to explore the beauty of the Greek islands. Five trips within one month will be changed into four days within one month and six trips within one month will be changed to six days within one month.
3. Enjoy the Trans-Siberian Express Exhibition
Train fans will love the Trans-Siberian Express exhibition at York’s National Railway Museum. Visitors can expect to learn all about the iconic train as well as see many Russian artefacts including a jewelled fabergé egg containing a model train known as The Great Siberian Railway. The exhibition starts on 26 March.
4. A new ‘Adventures on Trains’ book
February 4 sees the release of Murder on the Safari Star, the third book in the best-selling Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. This time hero Hal heads to South Africa to help his uncle Nat solve a murder on a cross-country rail safari.
5. More night trains
Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, OBB and SBB have agreed to expand the network of international passenger night trains in Europe. Four new Nightjet routes that will connect 13 European cities have been agreed including the return of night trains to the Netherlands in 2021.
6. The return of the Wawel Berlin to Kraków train
After a six-year absence the popular Eurocity Wawel train made a comeback at the end of 2020 and will now offer train lovers the chance to travel between Berlin and Krakow whilst enjoying a leisurely lunch as you journey through the forests of western Poland.
7. Three new super luxe VSOE Grand Suites
Belmond will be launching three new Grand Suites on board the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train in 2021. Each suite, Vienna, Prague and Budapest will be restored to its Art Deco splendour, boasting a luxe double bed, private marble-panelled bathroom, separate living area and 24-hour steward to attend to your every need. Free-flowing champagne and all meals are included in the ticket price. A classic one-night journey in a Grand Suite starts at approx $7,860 pp.
8. Take a classic journey from Basel to Locarno
Swiss rail company Sudostbahn recently launched a year-round service on the classic picturesque Gotthard route. On the Treno Gottardo service, you can currently travel along the east shore of Lake Lucerne, taking in the beautiful Leventina district on the south side of the Gotthard. But from April 5 the route will be extended to Locarno, on the shore of Lago Maggiore.
9. Scotland’s back in style
Forty per cent of Railbookers current bookings are for trains and holidays in the Scottish Highlands. And with Covid restrictions still in place, it seems a lot of us are keen to explore what the UK has to offer and enjoy some memorable journeys on iconic trains like the Jacobite Steam Train and the Belmond Royal Scotsman.
10. New Isle of Wight trains
Following a £26 million investment, visitors to the Isle of Wight who travel on the Island Line will get to enjoy a ride on one of five refurbished former London Underground trains from May 2021.
11. An exciting new Rocky Mountaineer route
Rocky Mountaineer is launching a new route in 2021. On the two-day ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks’ trip passengers will enjoy a picturesque journey between Denver, Colorado and Moab in Utah, staying overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The new route is set to start in August 2021.
12. Firework extravaganza
The bosses at Northern Belle recently let us into a secret. The luxury train line is planning some spectacular fireworks displays in 2021. One of their big ideas is that passengers who are heading to Edinburgh get to enjoy a delicious Hogmanay dinner on the Forth railway bridge while a piper plays and fireworks light up the sky outside the train windows.
13. Get on board Japan’s new 36+3 train in Kyushu
Autumn 2020 saw the launch of the luxurious 36+3 sightseeing train in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island. Covid has meant that very few European or North American train fans have had chance to ride on the train. The six-carriage, first-class train, which joins Kyushu’s celebrated Seven Star sleeper train, takes passengers along five routes around the island on a perfect day trip
14. Travel overnight from Berlin to Stockholm
From 31 March train travellers will be able to take an overnight train from Berlin and Hamburg to Stockholm. Swedish train company Snalltaget is running the trains initially at the weekends but by 5 June you will be able to travel on this route every day.
15. 250th Trans-Siberian Express journey
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains will be celebrating their 250th Trans-Siberian journey on a trip that departs from Moscow on 25 July 2021. Expect some very special treats and events on board.
16. Enjoy a bucket list rail and safari trip in Africa
In 2021 you can enjoy a ‘Slow Travel Safari’ with luxury travel company Ker & Downey Africa. Over 12 days you’ll get to enjoy rail, boat and safari adventures in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe including a four-day Rovos Rail trip from Pretoria to Victoria Falls plus a game drive in Hwange National Park.
17. Paris to Munich route – back on track
From 14 March French train operator SNCF is set to restore the daily Paris to Munich train, which is great news for British travellers looking to travel to south Germany without flying.
18. Book a private train trip
In 2021 the Grand Canyon Railway is offering customers the chance to book a private railroad car or even charter a whole train. The Grand Canyon Railway runs 65 miles from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. This has to be the ultimate present for the train lover in your life.
19. Brad Pitt’s train adventure
There’s only so many times you can watch Murder on the Orient Express so train fans will love the news that 2021 sees the release of two new films set on trains. First up is Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor Johnson and Lady Gaga. In the movie five assassins find themselves on a Japanese bullet train only to discover that their individual jobs are not unrelated to the others. It looks like this will be released in the summer. Meanwhile, Off The Rails, sees three fiftysomething friends take a rail journey around Europe to celebrate the life of their recently deceased friend. This is set to open in Spring 2021 and marks the last film appearance of the late Kelly Preston.
20. Faster trains for Amtrak
Amtrak travellers can expect a faster ride from summer 2021 when the existing Acela Express trains are replaced along Northeast Corridor routes by the new high-speed Avelia Liberty trains.
21. Enjoy breakfast on board as you travel into Budapest
The popular Munich to Budapest night train is being upgraded in 2021 with a new restaurant which means that you will be able to enjoy breakfast on board as you travel across the Danube plain into the city.