Put your courage to test on the most dangerous railway routes in the world



Hengul J Das

Hailing from Assam, Hengul has a firsthand experience on the travel scene of the entire north east region of India. A stereotyped Assamese with penchant for tea and acoustic guitars, Hengul prefers to go solo and travel light with emphasis on exploring an unknown land through the perspective of the natives.

Trains have been a preferred way of travelling since its inception. They are more comfortable than cars, more spacious than aircrafts and more travel friendly than buses. Be it countryside or wilderness, urban destinations or lush paddy fields, you can enjoy them all from your train compartment window! They are even one of the safest modes of travelling across the globe. This however comes with a catch, thanks to some of the most dangerous railway routes which will make even the bravest of travellers count his sweat drops. From Ecuador to India, these tricky routes have been testing the nerves of both passengers and train drivers.

Tren A Las Nubes, Argentina

A 217 km long route, this railway line is responsible for connecting Salta in Argentina with Polvorillo in Chile. It took 27 years for its construction and it has been in service since 1948. The entire stretch is situated 4200 m above sea level and it seems like a journey through clouds. To cover 217 km, the train takes 16 hours as it passes through 29 bridges and 21 tunnels.

Chennai-Rameswaram route, India

Chennai is the southernmost metropolis of India and Rameswaram is a prominent pilgrimage destination in the country. This train journey from Chennai to Rameswaram includes a 2.3 km long stretch that actually runs over an ocean. The tide and strong wind often challenges smooth movement of a train on this stretch. One for the brave-hearted!

Devil’s Nose train route, Ecuador

This is a 12 km long stretch in Ecuador which is often called the most impressive railroad specimen in the country. This however does not take away the 500 m drop, which is almost vertical in inclination. This descend is not for the faint hearted as a moving train taking a free fall is not the best of situations to be in!

White Pass and Yukon Route, Alaska

This one has a long history that goes back to 1900. Opened after 26 months of construction, this route served as the main railway line to cater to the gold mines of the area during the gold rush of early 20th century. With the fall of the mining industry, this route saw a closure in 1982 only to start its operation again in 1988. Today this route is a 67 km stretch from Skagway to Carcross which goes through rough and steep slopes, suspending cliffs and strong rivers.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia

Connecting Cairns and Kuranda in Queensland, Australia, this 34 km long railway route is a mix of 15 tunnels, 93 sharp corners and over 40 bridges. Not to mention the UNESCO World Heritage site of Barron Gorge National Park that also comes in between!

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, New Mexico
This one is a 103 km long narrow gauge route that connects Chama in New Mexico and Antonito in Colorado. Located at an altitude of 3000 m above sea level, this track passes through the Cumbres Pass and the Toltec Gorge. Feel your adrenalin reach its pinnacle as the train crosses cliffy edges, rock loops and narrow tunnels.

Georgetown loop, Colorado

Perhaps the oldest in this list, this route was originally built in 1877 with the purpose to access the silver mines of this region. It links two towns―Georgetown and Silver Plume in the Rocky Mountain range. This track however faced a shut down in 1939. Then decades later in 1984, it was reopened for tourism purposes. This is a brief journey of just over 7 km but within this distance travellers get to pass through Clear Creek Valley bridges and the Devil's Gate High Bridge.

You might also like to have a look at: The most spectacular train journeys across the world.
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