Our visit to Japan in 2008 reinforced that reminder and served as an indication that there are certain comfort issues on a long-haul train that you don't get in Cattle Class on your average budget airline. The Shinkansen also brought in the speed factor, which is unlikely to be inflicted on Australian rail passengers anytime soon. 

That seven-day Japan Rail Pass experience brought back memories of earlier and much slower trips between Brisbane and Rockhampton as a kid on his way to visit the grandparents or an impecunious student riding the Rattler between Townsville and Brisbane on mid-term breaks from the old Townsville Teachers College. 

Those trips would be better in a sleeper, but while financial considerations ruled that out, there was a social aspect to travelling on the old Southbound Student Non-Express, stopping at all stations and quite a few places that weren't to allow swifter, more significant traffic to pass.

Those factors combined to get Hughesy thinking of rail travel again, and once financial constraints associated with paying off the Little House of Concrete disappeared I started thinking of a train trip or two. The fact that or two turned out to be the Indian Pacific and The Ghan would probably come as no surprise to anybody au fait with the options within Australia. 

There are others, but when you're talking long-haul rail, those are The Two.

© Ian Hughes 2017