While “it’s not the destination, but the journey” may be a bit of a cliche, train travel is one way this platitude rings true. This year brings more exciting ways for us to dive into train travel in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In 2022, the US will receive its first high-speed bullet trains, while the expansion of luxury sleeper train routes in Europe will connect countries like The Netherlands to Switzerland while offering a good night’s sleep. Train travel offers more than stunning scenic views, it’s also a more sustainable way to travel; electric trains can be up to 80 percent better for the environment than flying by cutting down on emissions. So this year, when determining how you’d like to travel, here are some great new train routes that lead to some amazing destinations.
1. Boston to Washington DC
The Amtrak Northeastern corridor trains are getting an upgrade after over 20 years in service. The new Acela trains will travel from Boston through Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. With Asia and Europe investing in high-speed rail since the 1960s and 70s, 2022 is the year the US will catch up with trains that reach up to 160mph.
Built with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, expect oversized bathrooms, touchless technology, and comfortable seats with U-shaped headrests that create space between passengers. You can also pre-book and choose your row. Once you’re settled in, enjoy the complimentary WiFi and built-in USB and plug-in outlets to keep your devices powered up.
2. Belgium to Prague
Sleeper trains are a perfect choice when country hopping in Europe. European Sleeper, a Netherlands-based operator, and Czech operator Regio Jet have teamed up to connect major cities like Brussel, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Praha. When you’re awake, you can take advantage of the complimentary WiFi, breakfast, and free coffee. And if you’d like to add a stop in the UK, an easy switch to the Eurostar service will take you there. Tickets will go on sale in April for travel beginning summer 2022, with trains running every other day.
3. Paris to Vienna
This ride from France to Austria offers great views right before bed and breakfast in the morning. This journey heads through the Marne Valley and offers an enjoyable sunset over Champagne vineyards. You’ll find peaceful rest in one of the three NightJet options for sleep. For just 29 euros ($33), you can relax in plush seating, splurge for 50 euros ($57) for your group of four to six in a couchette, or book a single, double, or triple starting at 89 euros ($101).
4. Amsterdam to Zürich
NightJet also connects you from The Netherlands to Switzerland on a 12-hour ride using the Rhine Valley route with the same comfortable options as the trip from Paris to Vienna starting at 59 euros ($67). Using Eurostar, travelers in London can travel to Amsterdam in less than four hours, and then take this train at night and reach Zurich by morning.
5. Thailand to Laos
For just $23, you can travel from Bangkok, Thailand, to Vientiane, Laos, and Boten, which borders China via day or sleeper train. The Chinese-government-funded project makes it much easier to travel in Asia, especially from the landlocked country of Laos. What was once a 15-hour trip from Laos to the Chinese border can now be done in just four hours. Passengers can expect multi-lingual train attendants, luggage alarms connected via Bluetooth, and delicious snacks on board. Asia is to become even more accessible by train over the coming years, with planned connections through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Service for this new train began in December 2021. Tickets aren’t available directly online.
6. The Copper Trail
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive journey through Africa, in July 2022, Rovos Rail will launch its latest route, The Copper Trail. The journey is a 15-day 1927 mile journey through Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Angola. This all-inclusive trip includes excursions like a visit to an elephant sanctuary in Zambia, a copper mine visit in the DRC and a sunset river cruise to Victoria Falls. The Rovos suites — on what is considered one of the most luxurious train lines in the world — start at $13,200. The price includes private bathrooms, modern amenities, all meals and beverages onboard, and beds that fold up into sofas to soak up the journey during the day.