Scent to try us

A HECTIC dash by metro across Paris one afternoon during last month’s fuel ’crisis’ reminded us of the hapless British transport minister who got into trouble for preferring his car to public transport because he didn’t like sitting next to ’smelly commuters’. It was hot and crowded, and discernible amongst the many sensations was the odd whiff - imagined surely? - of that old aroma for which the metro was once infamous, a mixture of urine and brake dust.

No such olfactory delights for passengers on Australia’s luxury cruise trains run by Great Southern Railway, whose compliance with certain standards is enjoined in a Welcome Aboard leaflet that has come our way. ’Because of the close proximity of passengers during rail travel’ it advises, ’if your attire does not meet the minimum standard or your personal hygiene might offend fellow passengers, you may be asked to retrieve suitable clothing from your baggage or bathe before being permitted to board the train.’ Another regulation bans the wearing of thongs, though curiously for reasons of safety rather than good taste. Pity the poor train manager.

Iron horse

Who remembers the Fintona tram, the horse-drawn jalopy that once plied the rails between the junction and the little Northern Ireland town of that name? A photo of a very similar contraption accompanies a note about the recently restored horse tramway in the Mühlviertel region of Upper Austria linking Kerschbaum (Freistadt) with its station at the summit of the Linz - Ceske Budejovice main line. Tourists may choose between the luxury mail coach Hannibal II or the 26-seat Franz Josef horse bus for the 0·5 km trip down to the town.

CAPTION: Enhancing its range of cruise train itineraries in Thailand and Malaysia, Venice-Simplon Orient Express has added a new side excursion to its Bangkok - Singapore Eastern & Oriental Express. On selected dates the train stops for a day at Hua Hin, soon after leaving Bangkok, while passengers visit the famed temples of Angkor Wat and Bayon. The only problem is that the temples are in Cambodia, requiring E&OE to add a private plane to its fleet, to fly the ’guests’ across the Gulf of Thailand