There are so many great reasons why you might want to take in a railway journey from the comfort of your own home. Perhaps you or a family member is a huge fan of trains (I can think of many kids who fit this description), maybe you’re always on the lookout for a way to do some great armchair travelling, parents may wish to instill a sense of wanderlust in their kids, or maybe you’re even considering making the journey in real life and want to check it out in advance. It’s also possible you’ve never even thought about it before now and you’re just keen to take a look.
Whatever the reason for wanting to view railway journeys online, the trick is being able to find the best ones. So, in order to make your life a little easier, we’ve compiled this list of great virtual railway journeys you can take right now. Happy travels!
Trans Siberian Railway: Moscow-Vladivostok
The most impressive feature-laden virtual railway journey would have to be the Trans Siberian Railway, from Moscow-Vladivostok. Google and Russian Railways have worked together to provide this virtual journey, ensuring you can see some of Russia’s most picturesque locations without leaving your house.
The complete train journey is a huge 9226km long, crossing two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities, but you can quickly jump ahead to any section of the track that suits you. The most scenic legs of the trip are starred to make it easy for you to choose something you’ll enjoy.
As you take in the view from the train, it’s also possible to listen to Russian literature, Russian radio, Russian folk music, train sound effects and more. You’ll occasionally see photographs and stories about the region you’re viewing. Plus, it’s intertwined with Google Maps so that you can see exactly where in the world your tour is taking you.
Victoria Line Driver’s Eye View (And More By Video 125)
Video 125 is a British train enthusiast website, which normally focuses on selling DVDs of train journeys. However, they do have a YouTube channel, which lets you see short clips of some of these train rides, often from the driver’s point of view with an interesting commentary. Here’s one of the Victoria Line with a view from the driver’s seat.
London To Brighton 1953 & 1983
The BBC took footage of a train trip between London and Brighton in 1953, then decided to repeat the trip in 1983. Here’s a four minute sped-up version of the route with both the 1953 and 1983 versions side by side. It’s fascinating to see the changes in scenery. Most importantly, I hope they take another video in 2013 so they can have the three versions side by side. It’d be like the Up series for trains!
BBC Great Railways: Australia “The Long Straight”
The BBC made a documentary series on the Great Railway Journeys of the world. This video is about the Australian train between Sydney to Perth, the Indian Pacific. While it does show some great footage of the journey, it is very much a documentary, giving lots of insight into the history and features of the train line. This train route is 4352km long and also features the world’s longest straight stretch at 478km, which is quite a record.
Virtual Railroader is a site dedicated to creating virtual train journeys. There are a couple of interesting tours you can take of completed simulations, but the fun really lies in creating your own. The site will point you in the direction of software, tips, tools and forums in order to get you up to speed.
Once you’ve started viewing interesting railroad journeys on YouTube, you’ll find that a number of other videos of fantastic train routes will feature in the suggestions. If you want inspiration for railway journeys to search for, see the rest of the featured journeys in the “Great Railway Journeys” series.
What are your favorite virtual railway tours?