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All aboard! Street View takes to the tracks to capture the Swiss Alps

Google’s Street View cameras sure do get around. Not content with mere roads, over the years its special 360-degree cameras have been snapping parks, airports, malls, the Great Barrier Reef and, more recently, parts of the Amazon basin. It’s also photographed a naked woman and a urinating man, but we won’t dwell on those kinds of images right now.

Instead, let’s focus on Google’s latest mapping expedition, which involves, for the first time, a ride on a train. A post on Google’s Official Blog on Tuesday gave details about the project, which take viewers on a journey through the beautiful Swiss Alps.

The new images are the result of a partnership with UNESCO and Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland. The journey covers a distance of 78.5 miles (122 km), providing armchair travelers with stunningly beautiful views along the UNESCO World Heritage Albula/Bernina train line.

The project began last year, using the Street View trike to capture the scenery. Fortunately, some poor soul wasn’t forced to cycle the length of the line, dodging oncoming trains along the way. Instead, Google plopped its trike onto the wagon of a Rhaetian Railway train and took its images from there.“We’re sure that the virtual visit will inspire people in Switzerland and worldwide to visit us and take a ride between snow-covered mountain tops and palm trees,“ said Reto Schmid, head of e-business and distributions at Rhaetian Railway. Palm trees?!? Yes, apparently they have palm trees in snow-covered Switzerland.

The images can be viewed in a special gallery here or by accessing Google Maps in the usual way.

In other train-based Street View news, Google said earlier this month that it would also begin mapping a number of rail stations in London, UK.

Thirteen of the capital’s busiest stations will be incorporated into Street View, including London Bridge, Liverpool Street, Victoria and Paddington. Google said the project would be of particular benefit to first-time visitors to the stations, who would have the opportunity to research the stations’ respective layout and facilities in advance. To capture the images, Google’s camera was mounted on a trolley and rolled about each station concourse.

“This is a great idea and it is good to see the rail industry taking an innovative approach to improving passenger information,” David Sidebottom, director of Passenger Focus, told the Evening Standard newspaper.