‘Extreme Railways’ travels the world in search of incredible journeys

Former “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” host Chris Tarrant embarks on a series of extreme railway journeys across the world’s toughest terrains, coming to Arizona PBS every Sunday at 6 p.m. in December and early January.

In a captivating five-episode series, “Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways,” Tarrant explores some of the world’s oldest and most scenic railway journeys. Along the way, he meets fellow passengers, local characters and train drivers and engineers, and discovers more about the history, maintenance and impact of these extreme railways. Each episode is filled with incredible stories and challenges his crew must overcome.

Dec. 9: Ice Train to Nowhere (Alaska)

Chris heads to the Arctic to explore a railway which probably should never have been built… the Alaska Railroad. Constructed when the USA’s largest state was barely populated, Chris wants to find out how and why it has become such a success. But traveling at the tail end of winter with few trains means completing his journey to the end of the line in Alaska’s frozen interior is not going to be easy.

Dec. 16: Night Train to Patagonia (Argentina)

Chris travels by train across a thousand mile stretch of Argentina to the heart of Patagonia. In its heyday, this country boasted one of the largest and finest railways in the world, largely funded and built by the British. As he heads further and further South in his quest to ride the iconic Old Patagonian Express, Chris finds out just how far this once great railway network has fallen.

Dec. 23: The Diamond Railway (Africa)

Chris travels 1500 miles from Cape Town in South Africa, across Botswana to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, following the route of an incredibly ambitious railway pioneered by controversial 19th century British Colonialist, Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes made a fortune from diamonds and used it to fund his railway and to extend British rule across Africa, laying the foundations for apartheid in the process. Chris wants to discover if this railway built to further the interests of a white minority is still relevant to the people of these countries today.

Dec. 30: Trans-Caucasus Express (Eastern Europe)

Chris travels the length of the historic Trans-Caucasus Railway from the flaming towers of Baku on the shores of the Caspian to the port of Batumi on the Black Sea. He explores this railway built in the days of the Russian Empire in a region that for decades was part of the Soviet Union. He wants find out how the former republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia and this great railway they now share are faring today.

Jan. 6: War, Ore and Santa Claus (Scandinavia)

Chris travels 1800 miles across Scandinavia and Finland in the middle of winter, braving deep snow, sub-zero temperatures and hardly any light. He’s on a mission to find out how war, iron ore and a certain Lapland-living red suited gentlemen inspired the Scandinavians to build an extreme railway network that operates deep into the Arctic Circle 365 days a year.

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