Rail Tourism (TopRail)

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TopRail Objectives

In the context of steadily growing international tourism, TopRail is a UIC project that actively promotes railway tourism products by increasing the visibility of service offerings. This is accomplished by fostering close collaboration between stakeholders and their customers to encourage railway tourism opportunities. Railway tourism is able to offer a wide range of tourism alternatives combining exclusivity, technology, luxury and sustainability whilst contributing to fostering local economies.

In 2016, UIC launched TopRail.org, created using the latest information directly provided by its own railway companies, with the ambitious goal of presenting a global overview of the existing leisure experiences by rail.

TopRail Scope

Tourism by railway is heterogeneous and attractive to all types of customers (young people, adults, active, retired people, families, railway enthusiasts, domestic and international tourists) and the opportunities to develop and enjoy leisure by rail are many and varied.

Some of these include:

  • Trains as tourism products (journey or cruise trains) such as the Orient Express, the Bernina Express, the Transcantábrico, the Shiki-Shima, etc.
  • Trains running on scenic lines such as the Tibet train, the Hirondelles (”Swallow line”), the Trans-Siberian railway, etc.
  • Trains providing mobility at a tourist destination connected to mainline services: urban tourism, eco-tourism, culture, spots, wine, gastronomy, etc.
  • Heritage railways, e.g. steam trains

TopRail and Sustainable Tourism

Supporting sustainable tourism through the railways is not only a strategic framework for ensuring a positive image of the railways but is also a way to respond to social concerns, create a competitive advantage and manage risk. It can also make an important contribution to encouraging regional development policies.

During the International Year of Sustainable Tourism the TopRail group identified:

  • Strengths of railway tourism, and effective means of communicating with the market
  • Sustainability risks and appropriate management approaches
  • Key indicators, measurement and tools to support communication and benchmarking

TopRail members took the opportunity to publish the “TopRail Guidelines on Sustainable Tourism” which was reinforced by a Charter on Sustainable Tourism signed by the CEOs of TopRail members.

TopRail Guidelines on Sustainable Tourism - 2017 TopRail Guidelines on Sustainable Tourism - 2017

TopRail Publications

Guidelines on how to increase attractiveness for rail tourism
March 2020

View on TopRail website

In 2020 the focus was on “Benchmarking on new technologies for enhancing Digital Passenger Experience” to be published in 2021.

TopRail Workshops

Governance of transport services requires consensus, which is essential for the image of a country as well as the tourism and railway industries. Improving communication between stakeholders and promoting collaboration at international level is crucial.

The TopRail workshops will address key challenges and new tourism trends to provide an overview of the various dimensions of railway tourism projects and services:

Sustainable tourism: well-designed and well-managed railway tourism products relate to the three pillars (social, environmental, economic) of sustainable development and can contribute solutions to sustainable tourism challenges.

Regional development: railways have always been closely linked to regional development. This segment will provide insight into the impact of accessibility in tourist destination choices and the importance of partnerships in the creation of successful railway tourism projects.

Heritage protection: by protecting heritage, we acknowledge its importance. Railway tourism projects play a vital role in enabling increased awareness of nature and railway heritage.

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