Jeddah – Saudi Arabia
Passengers in Saudi Arabia can travel long distances on the Kingdom’s longest route, stretching 11,000km (7,800 miles) in 13 hours. The route starts from Jeddah in the east and ends in Makkah in the north. It traverses borders with countries including Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Libya. The first phase started in 1999 and was designed to ease congestion, and allow quick supplies to Yemen during the Gulf War.
The Mascota train gets passengers around the hilltop town of Cuenca in north-eastern Spain – one of the railway’s most scenic routes, linking the town with Asuncion, capital of the nearby state of Paraguay. A 170km (112 miles) section runs on a set of track dating from 1835, which has been upgraded to carry modern cars, but the old railway remains in operation as a tourist attraction. The route includes eight bridge crossings.
In China, travellers can travel through the scenic Sichuan Gap, a 2,776-km (1,740-mile) rail line that begins at an old station in Datong, a city in Shanxi province, and continues towards scenic Datong National Forest Park in the Gansu province. The link can be used to cut down travel time, which can take days for travellers travelling by road. By train, it takes five hours.
For most of the year, the route between Beijing and Shanghai is the railway of choice for most travellers heading to the capital from southern China. But over its past decade of operation, the line has found a new purpose. Instead of shipping goods, new trains on the line – dubbed the “sea train” – make weekly trips between Asia and Europe.