How to experience the allure of trains in literature.

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Trains are more than a mode of transportation. Pick up many great novels and discover that trains are the symbols and themes of the books.

Trains as symbols in literature give stories depth.  Trains are a place where people accidentally meet, go their separate ways, take the time to think, work on something, and even as a place of rest and relaxation.

And here are some great examples of trains and literature.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter applies “Hogwarts Express”  into many levels of her story. The train, in which all characters reunite after a summer without seeing each other, serves as a place of bonding. The train is where the characters tell each other stories about their adventures and update each other on their current activities

In “The Polar Express”  Chris Van Allsburg‘s book, the train is the key element in the child’s experience.  Instead of the train transporting the children to a place where they will experience a great adventure, the magical train is where the adventures take place.


The Christmas Train by David Baldacci takes a disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon on a train journey from Washington D.C. to L.A in time for Christmas. The character travels by train that takes him on a journey of rude awakenings and a thrilling adventure. The train moves him across America and takes him into the rugged terrain of his own heart where he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. What a dream for the mystery addict to find a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds and thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?

Starting in the 1800s the British led the way in the influence of trains in novels.

Visit Railways in Victorian Fiction to find interesting details on the first railway line in Britain that opened in 1830 and transformed how the public traveled and communicated in fiction. It focuses on the works of Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot and explores the influence of the railway on Victorian novels.

Want to plan a British literary train tour?

Are you inspired to explore the many British literary sites on a train? Here’s the trip that you could add to your fall vacation plans.

It’s Great Trains of Europe Literary Britain train tour where you’ll see how the rich heritage of English literature links with the landscapes where the stories are set.

The 10-day tour includes literary stops to over 20 of the most beloved British authors’ homes and/or inspirational landscapes in the following locations:

Edinburgh via the classic Flying Scotsman

The Lake District via First Class seats on British Rail

Beatrix Potter Cottage

British Railway First Class

Cotswold via British Rail

Cornwall via British Rail

London via British Rail


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