Riding the Virtual Rails

I know that I will never get to ride all the great trains of the world but luckily there are no shortage of documentary programs on television about or featuring railways.

While I especially like the ones that focus on the railways themselves my love of travel means that I also like those that are more travel documentaries.

Here are a few that I’ve been enjoying lately.

Billy Connolly’s Tracks Across America – Billy travels around America by train stopping to look at interesting things along the way.

Great British Train Journeys 


Great Continental Railway Journeys – Both of these programs made by the BBC are hosted by Michael Portfillo who visits various locations which featured in his old Bradshaw’s Railway Guides.

Railroad Australia – This one, made for the Discovery Channel focuses on various railway operators around the country.

Mighty Trains – Another Discovery Channel program about iconic trains around the world.

Border crossing adapted from a photo by Jack No.1 , 09/08/20009.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.


Here are some older ones.

Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways – Riding on some of the world’s wildest railways.

The Tube – Interesting series about the London Underground.

Slow Train Through Africa – A five-part series of African train journeys hosted by Griff Rhys Jones.

The one that started it all for me

One of the first railways documentary series I can remember watching was the BBC’s “Great Railways Journey’s of the World” starting in 1980. This is the predecessor to the programs now hosted by Michael Portfillo. It was eight episodes with various presenters such as Ludovic Kennedy and Michael Frayn but my favourite episode was “Confessions of a Train Spotter” hosted by Michael Palin. I think it was his first travel film.

These programs and others like them have allowed me to vicariously experience such trains as The Indian Pacific,  The Canadian, The Glacier Express, The Blue Train and the Trans Siberian. I hope that if I’m ever lucky enough to do some more travelling I’ll get to ride on some of them myself.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s