Intrepid Travel has launched 40 new rail journeys around the world, in a bid to create a greater selection of low-carbon tourism options. Gemma Harris reports

Intrepid Travel, the small group adventure travel company, has announced the launch of 40 trips dedicated to rail travel, as well as four journeys that allow for flight-free routes from London.

The move by the responsible travel specialist represents a shift toward more immersive, low-carbon travel options for eco-conscious travellers.

Recent research from the company (based on a survey of 2,800 respondents) found that 75 per cent of travellers hope to take a train journey on their next trip, with a driving factor being reducing environmental impact. Meanwhile, 87 per cent would consider an alternative like rail to decrease their carbon footprint, and 31 per cent would do so even if it meant a lengthier trip.

For UK travellers, 92 per cent hoped to take the train. Facilitating this, Intrepid offers a flight-free experience from London with trips via Eurostar to Berlin, Madrid and Istanbul via Paris.

Further afield will be rail journeys from Bangkok to southern Thailand, and Varanasi to Agra, in India. Intrepid also offers family adventures from Tokyo to Kyoto and Rome to Pompeii.

Intrepid believes train travel allows for a more locally immersive experience by slowing down the journey, and local Intrepid guides lead small group sizes averaging ten to 12 people. These leaders will help rail travellers navigate complex routes and stations and “maximise the experiences during rest stops and overnight stays”.

The rail adventures aim to take travellers off the tourist track and into the heart of each location, “offering customers community, conversation and a sense of connection”.

From Paris to Istanbul, travellers can enjoy local and traditional Serbian delicacies in local homes. On the new Paris to Rome trip, the train takes the historic Gotthard railway route, taking in panoramic Swiss Alp views and enjoying farm-to-table Italian cuisine. Further East, the Trans-Mongolian journey will follow the ancient tea caravans from Beijing to Mongolia.

The launch aligns with Intrepid’s broader decarbonisation policies and longer-term plan to offer more eco-conscious options wherever possible. Since 2020, the fully carbon-neutral company has worked to remove internal flights from itineraries where viable alternative and less-carbon-intensive options exist.

A tangible example from the company is replacing an internal flight with an overnight train from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City on the 15-day Vietnam rail itinerary, which reduced carbon emissions by 12 per cent per person per day without impacting the trip length.

Three Intrepid Travel rail itineraries:

Trans-Mongolian Railway Adventure (11 days from £2,395pp)

While the popular Trans-Siberian route is currently closed to travellers, this new tour makes use of the Trans-Mongolian Railway, constructed in the late 1940s following the route of ancient tea caravans from Beijing, China through Mongolia.

The trip begins in Beijing, traveling through hilly landscapes in China, exploring Inner Mongolia and visiting Khustai National Park, the dunes of the Gobi Desert and Sainshand, before disembarking in Ulaanbaatar, the capitol city of Mongolia.

Paris to Istanbul (15 days from £3,270pp)

This new trip travels from Paris to Budapest by train, following the same route as the historic Orient Express. Travellers will stop to explore iconic spots and lesser-known sites in Strasbourg, Munich and Salzburg. Travellers will then journey on local trains from Belgrade to Istanbul, stopping for local delicacies, like a traditional Serbian lunch in a Salaš home.

Paris to Rome by Rail (ten days from £2,990pp)

On Intrepid’s new Paris to Rome itinerary, travellers will hop on the Gotthard Panorama Express through Switzerland. This train takes the original historic route on the Gotthard railway, constructed in 1872. The journey spirals through the alps, with panoramic views of the countryside, and Wassen Church, as well as stops for scenic hikes, medieval castles and a fresh farm-to-table Italian cooking demonstration.