Heatwaves, cold snaps and staff shortages: all can, and do, strike down Britain’s often costly rail services. Most Britons will, on more than one occasion, fork out the equivalent of a return flight to the Continent only to find their train cancelled or delayed. Therefore, when the news of a genuinely low-cost rail service arrives, it makes travellers question why not all routes can meet this standard. Next month, Lumo will launch its service between London and Edinburgh with one-way fares coming in as little as £10. A flash of hope, perhaps, for the future of train travel on home soil.
Venture across the Channel, however, and you’ll find a glut of good-value – and often beautiful – rail journeys. If your return-to-the-office commute has come with a hefty train fare, you may want to look away now. A weekday open return from Preston to London, for example, could set you back as much as £378. For around that same price, you could spend 15 days winding your way through mountains, along rivers and between the valleys of Europe. Here are six stunning trips to try.
This four-hour route between Chur, Switzerland and Tirano in Northern Italy is all the better for the train’s sightseeing cars (with extra large windows) as it passes through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges. The route vies with that of its sister train, the Glacier Express, for the most beautiful Alpine Route, plus it’s direct, so there are no stops to disturb you from taking in the views – they range from ice (the Morteratsch Glacier) to pretty villages and engineering feats (such as the Brusio spiral viaduct). The railway itself is Unesco-listed. A one-way ticket in second class, with a reserved seat, will set you back around 79 Swiss Francs (around £62). That’s around the same price (£62.40) for an anytime day return from Southampton Central to Clapham Junction. shop.rhb.ch