Sleeper Services

night_riviera_brandingThere was a piece in yesterday’s Guardian, about how European overnight sleeper services are being run down and phased out…that’s sad.

You can read the story, here

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/europe-night-trains-sleeper-service

Basically, these trains are the victims of high-speed train travel, low-cost airfares and general improvements in cars and motorways…there are just too many alternatives.

Still, this is a great shame. Overnight travel was certainly easy and convenient – you go to bed in one city and wake up, the next morning, in another. It’s centre-to-centre too. So, you didn’t waste time getting into town.

The whole experience was civilised, sophisticated and romantic; even in economy class. Actually, especially in economy class.

The sleeper train made the subconscious association between railway travel and dreaming absolutely explicit.

The high-point of the continental sleeper service was the period between the wars…when the service was provided by La Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-lits. This was a separate train company that provided high-class sleeping berths and restaurant cars to national train companies. A bit like Pullman in the USA.

compartiment_single_de_voiture_lit_lx_vers_1929_maquette_a_lechelle_1_d5469458hThe picture, above, is of a model of one of their 1930s sleeper units – it’s a kind of machine for sleeping. A bit like the Frankfurt Kitchen; but for resting.

They advertised their premium service by commissioning posters by the greatest designers…

wagons_lits_sans_2em_200043_medwagon_lits_cook_200060-1933_medsncf-une-nuit-en-voiture-liten-wagons-lits-avec-un-billet-de-2e-classe

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One Response to Sleeper Services

  1. Alan Pipes says:

    I’ve used the Caledonian sleeper twice: one Euston to Fort William (via Edinburgh!) and more recently to Inverness. I love them. But there’s not enough room to swing a cat – not like the ones in the movies – especially if as a single person you have to bunk up with a stranger (of the same sex). The breakfast was abysmal: a paper cup of coffee and a shortbread biscuit last time, I’m sure it was better the first time. But nothing can compare with sitting in the bar car drinking McEwans from a can as you whizz through Crewe in the dark!

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