Rail tours

In Britain passenger trains are primarily operated by train operating companies that have a franchise with the government to cover certain parts of the country. There are also a few 'open access' operators who have won a licence to provide daily services on one or two routes and operate independently of government. In addition there are several companies who provide occasional leisure and enthusiast trains, mostly at weekends, often using heritage rolling stock. These are commonly known in Britain as 'rail tours'.

This page lists some of the companies in Britain offering rail tours and also companies that provide sumilar services around the world specifically for tourists.

Day and weekend trips

  • Pathfinder Tours runs excursion trains, including steam, on the National Rail network
  • Vintage Trains runs steam and diesel excursion trains, and on summer Sundays the Shakespeare Express between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • UK Railtours runs day excursions
  • For other independent operators running special trains, see Railtour

Inclusive tours and holidays by rail

  • Ffestiniog Travel Personal opinion from Railfuture member Donald MacPhee: “I have found them to be very efficient and knowledgeable”
  • Planet Rail First class holidays by rail; run by Guy Saunders of York who believes that rail is the "way forward"
  • Cresta Holidays Bookings via Eurostar or the Venice-Simplon Orient Express
  • Euroventure Interrail holiday packages
  • The Railway Touring Co  Day trips and tours in the UK, Europe, and also South America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – recommended by Railfuture member Andrew Long
  • Rail Tours Ireland Does what it says on the tin
  • Great Rail Journeys Escorted holidays by train in Europe and worldwide.  Personal opinion from Railfuture member Elisabeth Jordan:  “These holidays are suitable for anyone, not just those with a particular interest in railways. They are not cheap, but they are most certainly good value for money”
  • Railbookers Holidays by rail across Europe, US, Canada and beyond
  • Holidays by Rail Rail holiday specialist and Amtrak ticket agent
  • Travelsphere Rail holidays in Europe and Asia
  • First Class Holidays Rail journeys in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • Canadian Affair rail tours, holidays and flights to Canada from the UK
  • Railtrail Escorted rail holidays in UK, Europe and USA
  • Uncommon Journeys Rail holidays in America
  • America by Rail Rail tours across the United States
  • Jetline offers Cruise and Rail holidays including Discover USA by train.

Special trains in Britain

If you want to rent a train for a conference or a party, you could try Train chartering or perhaps contact a nearby heritage railway.

Planning your journey | What type of ticket | Finding the best price | Getting to and from the station | Making the journey easy | When things go wrong | Going abroad