BERNINA EXPRESS, SWITZERLAND-ITALY
Children love tunnels, so how about a four-hour trip on the Bernina Express between Chur in Switzerland and Tirano in Italy? The line is a world heritage site, with 196 bridges and 55 tunnels, that reaches 2,253 metres at its highest point. Break the journey with a cable car ride up the Diavolezza Mountain. Berghaus Diavolezza hostel has beds in four-person rooms from £48 (Dh272) for adults, £24 for 7- to 12-year-olds. Get up early to see dawn break over the Alps.
Anthony Lambert, rail expert and author of Switzerland Without a Car (Bradt, £15.99)
THE CALEDONIAN SLEEPER, UNITED KINGDOM
An easy train adventure is the Caledonian Sleeper. This famous night service runs six nights a week between London Euston and a host of Scottish stations, via Watford Junction, Crewe and Preston. I’ve done the trip to Inverness with my family twice and it was a big hit. They get to stay up late and sleep in bunk beds on a train. Parents save on a long journey and a night’s accommodation. One-way advance fares from £24 (scotrail.co.uk).
TRAIN PLUS FERRY, THE NETHERLANDS
My kids love bunk beds on a train or a ferry. You can travel from London or anywhere on the Greater Anglia network to Amsterdam or anywhere in the Netherlands from £45 each way plus cabin. Leaving London at 7.32pm, you board the ferry in Harwich at around 9pm and get a private cabin with shower, toilet, satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. You arrive at Hoek van Holland at 7.45am and board a train for Amsterdam, arriving at 9.48am. See dutchflyer.co.uk for more details.
Mark Smith, founder of train information website The Man in Seat Sixty-One (seat61.com)
Take a sleeper or daytime high-speed train (TGV) from London to Nice via Lille Europe. The trains have “family spaces”, with four seats around a foldable table with a games board, plus a nursery area with changing facilities and bottle warmers. It’s then a three-hour ferry trip to L’Ile Rousse on Corsica. From here you can get a wonderful train that the locals call a train grande vibration (also TGV, but this is a real bone-shaker) up through the mountains in a couple of hours. It goes up through stunning scenery to Corte and on to Vizzavona, from where you can take a short walk to the Cascade des Anglais waterfalls.
Richard Hammond, founder of eco-friendly holiday guide website Greentraveller (greentraveller.co.uk)
Fast trains, ancient trains, Alpine passes and coastal panoramas: Italy has it all. What about this? From Milan, race to Naples on the Italo, one of Europe’s fastest and smoothest rides. When you’re ready, cross to Bari, maybe on one of the old regional trains over the Apennines. In Bari, try out Ferrovie Sud Est, an independent rail line using ancient and modern rolling stock, then take the night train back to Milan, rattling along the Adriatic in Trenitalia’s lovely new couchettes.
Tim Parks, author of Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo (Harvill Secker, £12.99)
Indian trains are a wonderful way to immerse children in the action. Take the 12-hour Mandovi Express from Mumbai to Madgaon in Goa, via the Konkan railway. It’s a 764km stretch between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. The train inches through coconut groves, thunders over lakes, and squeezes past the backs of houses the colour of sugared almonds. The Mandovi Express is famed for its food vendors, who traipse the aisles dishing out anything from chicken spring rolls and cutlet sandwiches to biryani. Check indiarailinfo.com for timings and ticket prices.
Monisha Rajesh, author of Around India in 80 Trains (Nicholas Brealey, £10.99)
For a long train journey with children, the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian from Moscow to Beijing is hard to beat. The atmosphere in the restaurant car is great, and they’ll probably end up being favourites with the guards and babushkas on the platforms. They can look out for yaks, and will never forget being on board while the carriages are raised up and replaced with narrower-gauge wheels at the Mongolian-Chinese border. One way fares from Moscow-Beijing cost about £495 per person via realrussia.co.uk.
Jeremy Smith, Rough Guides author