Rail travel vs.air

Jun 9th, 2004, 09:34 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Rail travel vs.air

We like train travel, and starting out in Cairns then to Sydney. Any info on taking the train vs. flying? We could see the country,less stress etc. The web site for the rail looks inviting, has anyone done this route? How does the train compare to first or second class trains in Europe? Thanks,Lisa
Lisasnv is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 11:24 AM
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I haven't travelled long distances in Australia by train, but the general consensus of opinion around here is that Australia does not lend itself to being seen by train in the way that Europe does. For one thing, the Aussies on this board tell us that long distance train travel in Australia is expensive. See, for example, this previous discussion thread:


That said, train travel is viable for some day trips, e.g., it's an option to consider when one travels from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. I myself have done the Sydney to Katoomba and Katoomba to Sydney train run several times.

I don't know if you appreciate Australia's distances. Cairns to Sydney is 1,695 miles. By comparison, according to Map Quest, Houston to New York City is 1,630 miles. I've never asked if there is a train from Houston to NYC but, even if there was one, I personally would not be attracted to the idea of using it.

Australia is the size of the lower 48 states of the U.S., but with only 20 million people. That means Australia's dynamics are different from those of the U.S. and VERY different from even more densely populated Europe.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 11:46 AM
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>>>>>>Australia's dynamics are different from those of the U.S. and VERY different from even more densely populated Europe.<<<<<<

It just occurred to me that my statement about national dynamics wasn't very clear. In case it sounds as if I'm suggesting Australia is an uncivilized place, nothing could be further from my intentions.

Australia's cities are cosmopolitan and extremely pleasant places to visit. Australia has heaps and heaps of wonderful things to offer, and I consider it to be a dream vacation destination, as well as a delightful country in which to live, as my personal experience attests.

My comment about "dynamics" related simply to the logistics of providing infrastructure for a huge, sparsely populated country whose population tends to be concentrated in just a few cities.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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In a nutshell: the train from CAirns to Sydney requires a change in Brisbane, takes about 3 days and is not very interesting, and not too comfortable!
margo_oz is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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Hi Lisa - the new tilt train on the Cairns-Brisbane leg saves about 7 hours over the Sunlander which takes about 32. Pretty pricy,against flying though. Scenery isn't much to write home about except for a hour or so south of Cairns, where there's the greenery of Wet Tropics.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 03:25 AM
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As an example, I caught the train years ago from Melbourne to Perth - it took 3 days. Flew the same sector recently and it took about 4 hours. Costs back when I took the train were about the same for the train as for flying. Of course the upside in taking the train is you get to see the country, and talk to fellow travellers. I suppose it depends on if you have lots of time.
KayF is offline  
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