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Heritage railways are railway operations that are not part of mainstream rail travel.

Oriented mostly towards historical railways, heritage train travel is usually short in length; many of these train operators are attached to museums, associated with heritage of a region or location. In many cases, heritage railways are the last bastion of working steam locomotives in their respective countries.

Some countries and operators take their role seriously to the point of generous funding, facilities and operational concessions to heritage railways.

Always check in advance as to operating times and seasons, as smaller museums and steam travel in many countries are severely restricted seasonal operations. Many of these lines are run by volunteers or staffed by summer students, leading to annual, seasonal changes of their days of operation. Not all countries provide English as a language for tourist railway information.



  • The Orient Express sleeper train cars of the 1920s and 1930s era have been placed back into service as the "Venice Simplon Orient Express", a seasonal tourist train. Only one run annually (in each direction) makes the full Paris-Istanbul trip; others run from Paris (or London) to Venice. While luxurious, this train is expensive and slower than the multiple modern trains required to complete the same route.


  • Germany has a number of historic railways some of them in scenic landscapes like Franconian Switzerland or the East Frisian islands.
  • Historically Saxony was a bastion of narrow gauge railways and while most were shut down or regauged, some survive as heritage railways. Most of the surviving railways go through beautiful landscapes in the Saxon Ore Mountains and primarily serve touristic purposes nowadays.
  • The Harz contains Europes largest steam railway. As a matter of fact it even expanded in recent years, acquiring and regauging disused tracks from Deutsche Bahn.


The "Marisa" locomotive of the Alūksne–Gulbene narrow gauge railway, Latvia



United Kingdom

North America

Steam train in Wakefield, Québec in 2010
See also Tourist trains#Historic and museum trains, Rail travel in Canada and Rail travel in the United States.


United States of America

South America



See also

  • Tourist trains have some overlap, though they are often distinct in being for profit and offer even less actual transportation value. Their historical accuracy may be even more lacking.
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