The era of slow travel is surely but surely back and with it the old glamor of train travel has re-opened our imaginations. And as 2023 moves inexorably forward, there will be plenty of comfortable, deluxe and even gorgeous new cars to hit the tracks and follow routes around the world.
Maybe then it’s time to kick off the pedal, reduce your carbon footprint, avoid the airport queues and beat the jet lag with some of the most attractive and interesting new rail routes this year.
Orient Express La Dolce Vita, Italy
The world’s most famous train originally welcomed travelers between Paris and Istanbul in ultimate luxury for almost a century from 1883 to 1977. In more modern times, the Orient Express has appeared in different forms serving different routes, including several major European cities.
And in 2023, the launch of the Accor Hotels group’s new Orient Express La Dolce Vita train will add a new route, meandering its opulent route over two days from Rome and across Italy to Venice, Siena, Matera and Palermo. Planned international routes with five more trains will cross the Adriatic coast in France, Turkey and Croatia.
It promises to be quite the experience—and at about $2,000 a night, it better be. The trains themselves are designed with a nod to the vintage glamor of 1960s and 1970s Italy and are, quite simply, gorgeous. Eleven cars house 12 deluxe cabins and 18 suites – all offer double beds, private bathrooms, tables and chairs, room service and private concierge who will tailor your trip to your specific needs.
Elsewhere, the Bar Auto offers cocktails and games, the Lounge a place to relax, and the Dining Car, Restaurantthe finest epitome of Italian gastronomy – regional, seasonal ingredients and dishes paired with the best wines.
Amtrak Acela, USA
You’ll have to wait until the fall to catch the new high-speed Amtrak Acela trains, due to run on the Northeast Corridor – the route that connects Boston with Providence, New Haven, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington DC
The route itself is not new, but the current 20-year-old trains are due for a serious upgrade. Enter 28 new Avelia Liberty trains, developed from France’s famous TGV, which make journeys faster and more frequent, running at up to 160 mph with room for up to 25% more passengers. Improvements include new seats, free fast Wi-Fi, charging points, a cafe car, real-time information and better accessibility for all passengers.
Cross-country travel through Europe has long been a rite-of-passage for many young travelers – the legendary Interrail Pass makes it cheap and convenient to visit many countries in a short time on a tight budget. While that heyday seems to have passed, Austrian railway company ÖBB’s Nightjet train service has done a great job of rekindling a passion for sleeper train travel in recent years. And 2023 will see a new fleet of trains take on even more exciting new routes to add to its existing 25.
This summer, Nightjet will introduce new trains on key routes from Vienna down to Munich and on to Rome, Milan and Venice, cutting a scenic swath across Europe. It starts in Austria’s Vienna or Salzburg or Germany’s Munich and extends beyond its current destination to Genoa and La Spezia in the Ligurian region, which means easy access to the brilliant Cinque Terre National Park.
By the end of 2025, Nightjet will have 33 of its new trains in service – next-generation cars that offer more capacity, comfort and privacy. Design-led, passengers can choose from pod-style mini cabins for soloists and larger sleeping rooms with en suite showers and toilets for groups or those wishing to share. A larger car offers space for bicycles, larger luggage and sports equipment.
GoldenPass Express, Switzerland
Home to the most panoramic and breathtaking train journeys in the world, Switzerland is about to unveil its crown jewel – a railway line 150 years in the making. The legendary railway route connects three of Switzerland’s major tourist destinations from Montreux to Interlaken via Gstaad in an incredibly scenic journey of just over three hours.
The GoldenPass Express (or GPX) is also a world first in that it was made possible by the design of unique trains that can change their wheel specifications and car height to accommodate the two different types of tracks already used by different trains.
The train itself offers three classes with first and prestige offered in-seat food from locally produced food and drink. But every passenger will enjoy the trip raison d’être – the view, witnessed through huge panoramic windows. Departing from Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva, the train takes passengers uphill to the resort town of Gstaad and takes in grass-carpeted valleys and snow-capped Alpine peaks over high mountain passes before stepping into the legendary ski haven of Interlaken.
Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train, Indonesia
The first high-speed train to arrive in Indonesia connects Jakarta with Bandung on the island of Java, reducing travel time from around three hours to 36 minutes. The new line will revolutionize the local and visitor commute between Indonesia’s bustling, chaotic capital of 32 million people and the colonial-era West Javan city of Bandung with its eight million inhabitants and surrounding natural attractions.
The train will have a maximum operating speed of 217 mph with approximately 50 miles of the line built on elevated viaducts to traverse urban areas and farmland. The planned launch date is June 2023 with further plans to extend the line east to Surabaya, which is currently a nine-hour journey from Jakarta.