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

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…


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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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