India’s Maharajas’ Express Joins World’s Top 25 Trains List

29 Nov
The Maharajas' Express

©The Society of International Railway Travelers Photo by Angela Walker

The Society of International Railway Travelers® is pleased to christen the newest member of its World’s Top 25 Trains list, The Maharajas’ Express. The Society announced the 2011 list for release Nov. 30.

The Indian luxury train began service in March and boasts 19 cars (excluding staff and generator cars). The train’s four itineraries begin and end in Delhi or Mumbai and include visits to such iconic locales as Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur and Jodhpur.

The MaharajasExpress brings to four the number of Indian trains on the Society’s list of World’s Top 25 Trains, a remarkable feat, said Society CEO Owen C. Hardy. “India has proven time and again its incredible commitment to rail — not just luxury service but service for the everyday person. Congratulations to the builders, owners and operators of the Maharajas’ Express.

Other trains in India on the World’s Top 25 List, returning this year, are the Deccan Odyssey luxury train, which offers touring from as far afield as Mumbai to New Jalpaiguri; the Palace on Wheels, a first-class touring train in royal Rajasthan, and the tiny Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in W. Bengal, which runs up to the hill station of Darjeeling, and whose remarkable engineering and history earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

Meanwhile, Angela Walker, Vice President for Operations for The Society of IRT, recently returned from India and issued a glowing report about the Maharajas’ Express. Find her report here.

The trains on the Society’s World’s Top 25 Trains list come from all over the world, and just about every continent.  The Society welcomes comments on our list. It is based on extensive first-hand experience on trains the world over by owners, staff, writers and members, who evaluate them extensively upon their return from travel. “These trains are the best of the best,” said Hardy. “We salute them for providing amazing and adventurous experiences for those lucky enough to take them.”

The World’s Top 25 Trains-2011

(Note:  Trains are listed by region and are not ranked within the list.  * signifies luxury train; + means the train provides a luxury service option on board.)


Pride of Africa*

Blue Train*


Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Deccan Odyssey*

Eastern & Oriental Express*

Maharajas’ Express*

Palace on Wheels

Shangri-La Express


Bernina Express

British Pullman*

Danube Express

El Transcantabrico*

Flam Railway

Glacier Express

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Royal Scotsman*

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express*

North America

Royal Canadian Pacific*

The Canadian

Rocky Mountaineer

South America

Andean Explorer

Hiram Bingham*



Indian Pacific+


The Society of International Railway Travelers® is an award-winning publishing company and full-service travel agency and tour operator based in the U.S. and serving clients from around the world. To order a complimentary emailed PDF of the IRT Society’s Best-Loved Railway Journeys 2010, register on the company web site:  To order the printed version, please contact the company for payment details. The Society specializes in luxury, deluxe and railfan journeys around the world.

11 Responses to “India’s Maharajas’ Express Joins World’s Top 25 Trains List”

  1. Garth Stevenson November 30, 2010 at 9:40 AM #

    Since there were 25 last year, I wonder which one was dropped from the list.

    • Owen C. Hardy November 30, 2010 at 11:01 AM #

      Good question. Since we have such limited space, we hate to go into why a train is dropping off the list. Unfortunately, the Bergen Railway from Oslo to Bergen is that train. The reason: our very experienced travelers on this train in 2010 had a number of complaints about their experience. We hope the NSB will evaluate passenger on-board experience on this train.

      • Garth Stevenson November 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM #

        I have said before and will say again that I don’t think Via Rail’s so-called Canadian belongs on this list. It follows a completely different (and less scenic)route than Canadian Pacific’s now defunct train of the same name, it is abysmally slow, and the rolling stock is starting to look a bit shabby. Three of Amtrak’s trains are significantly better in my opinion (and I am a Canadian), yet you have no Amtrak trains on your list.

      • Owen C. Hardy December 2, 2010 at 4:30 PM #

        Hi! Thanks for writing! So great to hear from one of our travelers! We would love to know what Amtrak trains you love. It’s true there are no Amtrak trains on our World’s Top 25 Trains list. That’s not Amtrak’s fault, though, in our opinion. It’s because our country has over decades not invested in our passenger rail service. But do let us know which of the trains you love so we can give them the proper praise.

  2. Dr. Mary-Lou Galician (aka "Dr. FUN") November 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM #

    My husband and I just returned from the season’s last Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastian 7-nighter on EL TRANSCANTABRICO, which definitely deserves the spot you have awarded it on your list! The train is lovely, the service is exceptional, the daily multiple extensive tour venues are fascinating, the cuisine was grand, and the passengers are great (nearly all Spanish-speaking, but everything was repeated in English for the 6 of us: the 2 of us from USA and 4 from OZ) . We booked the ONLY suite (others felt a bit stuffed into their little compartments) — but we were told that the entire train will be converted to all-suites for the new season. 😉 We are so glad we finally got to be onboard after many years of thinking about it.

    • Owen C. Hardy November 30, 2010 at 7:49 PM #

      So great to hear from you! We just got back from this journey, too! About 30 Society of International Railway Travelers members and the rest from Spain, Germany, and Bolivia. It was a real ball. We enjoyed everyone on the trip. Please keep posted and subscribe to Track 25 so you’ll see our complete posting about this fantastic journey. Indeed, the train is diminutive — it is, after all, narrow gauge — but the dining, the staff, the touring, the train — it was all wonderful. We are glad you agree with us!

    • Owen C. Hardy December 9, 2010 at 9:58 AM #

      Dear Dr. Galician: Just wondering if you have any tips you might like to share with travelers on this train? We have a number of them — but would love to hear from your perspective. Thanks! Eleanor Hardy

  3. Bruce Anderson December 15, 2010 at 2:58 PM #

    I still think the Canadian is the best of the “regular” passenger trains. All cars are in for or have recently been refurbished. With the introduction of the new premium class or whatever they are going to call it, that should easly solidify its place on the list. I’m on in January. I’ll report findings then. Regardless, food, service and ambiance is generally superior to anything Amtrak has to offer. Amtrak wins only on size of bedrooms. For me, the dome cars make the Canadian superior.

    • Garth Stevenson December 15, 2010 at 3:26 PM #

      Perhaps Mr. Anderson never experienced the original Canadian, which was run by Canadian Pacific. In its heyday it was the best regularly scheduled train in the world. But the present version follows a completely different route with very little notable scenery to be seen from those dome cars.

  4. Garth Stevenson December 18, 2010 at 10:39 AM #

    A last word about The Canadian, and then I’ll hold my peace. I notice that the IRT description of this train says it travels “4500 miles”. You seem to forget that Canadian timetables are in kilometres, and a kilometre is about five-eighths of a mile. Converted to U.S. measurements, the distance The Canadian travels from Toronto to Vancouver is a tad less than 2800 miles. Please change your publicity accordingly.

    • Eleanor Flagler Hardy December 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM #

      Mr. Stevenson, thanks so much for correcting this obvious error~we definitely do know the distances are in kilometres. Thanks so very much! Whatever the distance — in kilometres or miles — is it a fantastic journey many of our travelers have loved.

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