We’re going on an adventure. First things first, make your way to your kitchen, pop the kettle on and make yourself a cuppa. Next stop, the snack cupboard – tasty snacks are essential for any adventure. Next stop, your living room. Once you’re settled in your comfiest seat it’s time for your journey to start. What’s the adventure, you say? A train journey to wherever you fancy in the world. Argentina? Mexico? France or much closer to home? The choice is up to you.
There are loads of brilliant railway documentaries to watch both on tv and ‘catch up’ just now. iPlayer has got a great selection including the brilliant ‘Inside Central Station’ and a ton of archived documentaries dating back to the 1960’s. Over on Channel 5, there’s a huge choice of truly spectacular journeys spanning all corners of the globe. Perfect for an hour or so of armchair escapism!
We’ve rounded up five of our favourites to transport us on an epic adventure.
- 16 documentaries from the BBC 4 archives on iPlayer
The BBC has delved into its archives and put a bunch of railway documentaries from yesteryear onto iPlayer. If you fancy a trip down memory lane then these are perfect. There are 16 documentaries to choose from ranging from a series of ‘The train now departing’ from the late 80’s to programmes that focus on individual branch lines. There are a couple of great documentaries about The Flying Scotsman too.
For a trip down memory lane, have a watch of ‘The Train Now Departing – The West Highlander.’ Driver Callum MacRaild takes us on his daily journey to Mallaig along the West Highland Line aboard a restored K1 steam train. If you have a spare half an hour, get yourself a cuppa and pop this on. There’s lots of cab footage and gorgeous shots of the west highland landscapes, all accompanied by the relaxing tones of Mr MacRaild.
- Inside Central Station iPlayer
We may be a bit biased about this one but when Inside Central Station first launched in early 2019, it quickly became a hit. So much so that Series One is now being broadcast UK wide on BBC2. The programme has so much heart in it and one of the reasons that it is so popular is because it shows just how much Glasgow Central means to so many people. The programme shows the inner workings of Scotland’s busiest rail station and focuses on the people that keep it running every day. There are seven episodes on iPlayer at the moment but it’s shown fairly frequently on the BBC Scotland channel before the episode is added to iPlayer so keep checking back.
- World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys – Channel 5
As you would expect from a programme with that title, you’ll find yourself immersed in the stunning landscapes that these train lines run through, including some places only accessible by train. There are 13 episodes to choose from covering all corners of the world including France, New Zealand, Mexico and even an African safari. But our favourite episode brings us a lot closer to home. Take a look at Episode 1 of Season 2 for ‘Scotland: A magical journey through the Highlands’ for exactly what it says in the title – a truly magical journey. Filmed during winter, the views of the snowy highland landscapes are enchanting. Throughout the hour-long episode, you may even spot some familiar faces and places. Any of the destinations in this series are definitely worth an hour of your time if you fancy some escapism.
- Around the World by train with Tony Robinson – Channel 5
Tony Robinson’s enthusiasm for everywhere he visits is what makes this programme so enjoyable. You cannot help but get swept away by his joy at everything he’s seeing and experiencing, wherever he is in the world. Each episode covers a lot of ground and it leaves you wanting to add each destination he visits to your own future travel plans. There are twelve episodes to choose from featuring Europe, Canada, South America and New Zealand to name a few. It’s a really enjoyable way to spend an hour travelling from the comfort of your living room.
- ScotRail’s YouTube channel
While we can travel all around the world by train through the medium of tv, it’s worth remembering that here in Scotland we really do have some of the most incredible scenery on our doorstep. Our social media team have built up a great number of videos over the years on the ScotRail YouTube channel with short ‘speedy’ journeys like Glasgow to Aviemore in nine minutes, to longer relaxing real time journeys along the Highland Mainline. If you’re missing your commute, there are even some ‘virtual commute videos on there. Take a look and see if there’s a video that can transport you to where you’d love to be.
We hope you enjoy watching these programmes and please do to let us know on our social media channels if there’s an episode you’ve particularly enjoyed. If you know of someone that would love to while away a few hours (virtually) escaping around the world by train, why not share this blog post with them?
Photo credit - Dennis Hardley