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Will Ethiopia's Lion of Judah Engines Roar Again?
by Jerry W. Bird

Sometimes I feel like Casey Jones, as if "Railways of the World" a series I launched in 1989, was the spark that started a revolution - a true 'renaissance ' in rail travel. Perhaps it was ESP, because since then, many famous routes have been upgraded or restored, and new lines installed, as countless visitors rediscover the romance of the rails. Like me, these folks savor the fact that getting there is more than half the fun. The mighty engine's 'roar" is music to our ears.

Given Aladdin's 3 wishes, I would restore Emperor Haile Sellasie's 'Lion of Judah' railway engine, hook it up to the prized set of French and British coaches, and operate luxury excursion tours on the African lionFranco-Ethiopian Railway. Built in the 1930s, the 482 mile line stretches from Addis Ababa, via Nazaret, the Rift Valley and Dire Dawa, to Djibouti, a French protectorate on the Gulf of Aden. In a 5-minute BBC interview, hoping my message would cause a spark, I said, "Think of the much needed income such a tour would generate for the Ethiopian economy."

Jerry W. Bird launched "Railways of the World" in 1989 in national magazines, and has since profiled a wide variety of railways. His trips include everything from historic steam trains and continental giants, to short lines, dinner trains and interurban rails.Watch for more on this site and in our magazines.

After a visit to Emperor Selassie's palace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa's I am convinced that ornate railway station (gare) is the ideal venue for an historic journey. Yes, the lordly Lion of Judah's once mighty engine lacks wheels, and the dust covered British and French coaches that serveds the royal family show neglect from being shunted aside during the Marxist regime. However, with some good old fashioned TLC (tender loving care) each of these museum pieces would soon be in shining order. The Emperor's train is still not widely available for public view; fortunately we and our BBC friend received special permission. (continued)


A Blue Train with 'White Glove' Service?
Only in South Africa!
by Muguette M. Goufrani

For years I had read that South Africa held many pleasures for those of an adventurous or romantic nature, so one summer, taking a month's vacation from my job as a travel agent in West Africa, I headed south. Here at last was my chance to spend some leisurely, laid back weeks getting to know that fascinating country. While the sights and delights were many and varied, the epitome was my experience aboard the famous Blue Train. It was like the finest luxury cruise, sailing across a sea of ever-changing landscapes . Yet there was time and space to savor every waking moment.

I managed to read some pamphlets about the line's history, which spans over 50 years. Back in 1928, it became the first luxury train in South Africa, operating on a line between Cape Town and Johannesburg. The trademark was its attractive bright sapphire-blue fleet of carriages. Originally known as the 'Union Limited' and 'Union Express' , a legend began when folks started calling them 'the Blue Trains'. Prior to this occasions trains on the famous route were involved in the discovery of gold and diamonds, and in the Boer War of the 1890s. Those cold,, soot laden coaches were a far cry from those operating today.

To be continued.

Africans visiting North America will enjoy reading about a variety of Rail Travel Experiences including the Rocky Mountaineer, The Royal Canadian Pacific (Above photos), The White Pass & Yukon Route, American Spirit, Amtrak's America - and many others. WE WILL BE PLEASED TO MAKE BOOKINGS. E-MAIL or view our North American Site for the following page:



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