Ten Famous Trains

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Twentieth Century Limited

Trans-Siberian Express

Traveling between Moscow and Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Express makes the longest regular train trip in the world, covering 5,778 mi and making 91 stops over the course of nine days. During the Cold War, Westerners could travel only in compartments, where they were subject to Stalinist propaganda played on loudspeakers.

Blue Train

The Blue Train has run between Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa, since 1939 and derives its name from its blue locomotives, railroad cars, and leather seats. It is still considered one of the most luxurious trains running, having been upgraded in 1997 to include televisions and phones in all of its suites.

Indian Pacific

Connecting the east and west coasts of Australia, the Indian Pacific runs from Sydney to Perth in three days, over a distance of 2,461 mi. This route has the world's longest stretch of straight track, which lasts for 297 mi.

Super Chief

Originally operated by the Santa Fe Railway beginning in 1936, the Super Chief ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was considered one of the best long-distance trains in the U.S. and was renowned for its gourmet food and Hollywood clientele. Amtrak currently operates a long distance train over the same route.


The French TGV (train à grande vitesse, or high speed train) is an electric train system. Trains run between Paris and several other cities, regularly traveling at speeds as high as 186 mph. A modified TGV set a world speed record in 1990 when it hit 320 mph in trial runs.

Orient Express

In 1883 the Orient Express began service from Paris to Istanbul, crossing six countries. The train was famous for its five-course French meals and for its passengers, who were often diplomats, royalty, or government couriers.

20th Century Limited

The 20th Century Limited debuted in 1902 as the New York Central's luxury train, operating between New York and Chicago. It traveled the smooth “water level route” alongside the Hudson River and the shores of Lake Erie. The railroad would roll out a crimson carpet to welcome passengers to the train, giving rise to the phrase the “red carpet treatment. Amtrak currently operates a long distance train over the same route.”

The Flying Scotsman

Running between King's Cross station in London and Edinburgh, Scotland, the Flying Scotsman was a luxury express train full of amenities. It featured a hairdressing salon, a Louis the XVI–style restaurant and bar, and, for a short time, a cinema coach.

Peruvian Central Railway

The highest railway in the world, the Peruvian Central Railway is an engineering marvel, climbing 13,000 ft on its trip from La Oroya to Lima, Peru. The railroad, which features 66 tunnels and 59 bridges, zigzags across valleys in order to minimize the steepness of its climb. There is an onboard doctor who administers oxygen to passengers who get altitude sickness.

Bullet Train

The Japanese Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, runs at speeds of more than 100 mph over special tracks with minimal curves. In 1997, a newer version of the Bullet Train became the fastest scheduled train in the world, regularly reaching speeds of up to 186 mph.

—Mike Rozett

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