Trans Europe Express

I have decided to focus this blog so that its theme is the cultural history of railways. We’ll begin in Europe and see how we go. Hopefully, it will become a kind of “Rail-Rover” excursion.

Most people will know that I’m mad about vintage posters. This one’s by Cassandre from 1927. It’s for an international service between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The idea of international travel was pretty special in the 1920s. The word “Pullman” comes from George Pullman who made the most luxurious and comfortable trains. So, the idea of travel and sophistication is implicit in this image, even though nothing is shown.

The low point-of-view exaggerates the perspective of the tracks disappearing to the horizon. That gives the poster a sense of scale and speed. Brilliant.

There are other names associated with international train travel: La Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, Mitropa and Trans Europe Express. Now, you can travel to Paris from London, St Pancras, on Eurostar.

The TEE trains were streamlined services. I remember using a TEE to get from paris to Toulouse at the end of the 1970s. The corridor express had compartments separated by glass walls and the train had double-glazed windows with internal blinds. It was all very Catherine Deneuve. That’s cockney rhyming-slang for sophisticated.

The German electronic music combo, Kraftwerk, did an LP called “Trans-Europe-Express” (1977).

There we are – railways, posters, film and music. That was quite a trip.

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