British Royal Train

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The Royal Train is a set of railway carriages dedicated for the use of the British Monarch, other members of the Royal Family, and their staff. The train enables members of the Royal Family to carry out busy schedules over an extended period, in a secure environment which minimises disruption and inconvenience to the public, whilst providing accommodation, communication, staff and office facilities.

The Royal Train passing Harringay West in 1961, the locomotive, Gresley A4 Pacific No. 60028 'Walter K. Whigham' caries a four-lamp headcode that was reserved for the Royal Train

History[edit]

Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to travel by train, on 13 June 1842 on the Great Western Railway (GWR), which ran the line between London and Windsor (for the Castle).[1] Nearly sixty years later, after her funeral in 1901, Queen Victoria's coffin was taken to London Paddington station and transported on the Royal Train.[2]

Royal Train arriving at Tattenham Corner on Derby Day in 1959. Notice the station master marking the stopping point for the driver.

After the formation of British Railways in 1948, the individual regions continued to maintain the constituent railway companies' Royal Train carriages. A single "Royal Train" was formed in 1977 as a response to the demands of the Silver Jubilee. The Royal Family have also travelled on ordinary service trains more frequently in recent years to minimise costs.[3]

The train currently consists of nine carriages, seven of these being of the British Rail Mark 3 design, including two that were built for the prototype HST train. Not all of these will be used to form a train, as different vehicles have specified purposes. Two locomotives are designated for use on the train and painted in the claret livery of the royal household, but are used for other traffic when not hauling the royal train. The carriages may be used for other Heads of State, but they cannot be hired by private users. When not in use, the train is stored in Wolverton, where it is maintained by an Alstom subsidiary.[3]

Train drivers are specially selected based on their skills, including the ability to make a station stop within six inches of the designated position.[3]

Incidents[edit]

The Royal Train has had a very good service record. However, Gerald Fiennes wrote in his autobiography I Tried to Run a Railway of one incident on the Eastern Region when an ex-LNER A4 class 4-6-2 was used to pull the Royal Train. The first vehicle was a BR Midland Region generator van, and the difference between the 'buckeye' couplings on the A4 and on the van was about 4". Various attempts to separate the couplings failed, leading the crew to couple the station pilot (standing at the rear of the train) to couple up and apply the brakes. The A4's regulator was then opened to full cut-off, resulting in the engine breaking free from the generator van and rushing off up the track. Most likely the standard three-link chain coupling was used instead of the 'buckeye' couplings on the two vehicles, which would have required repairs due to the various attempts to break them apart.

Locomotives nominated for the Royal Train[edit]

Class 67, no. 67006 "Royal Sovereign" at Evesham on 26 March 2005 hauling the Venice-Simplon Orient Express Northern Belle train. This is one of the two locomotives painted in Royal Claret livery for hauling the Royal Train.
Former Royal locomotive 47798 Prince William at the Rail200 railfest at the National Railway Museum 1 June 2004.

Although railways often had nominated locomotives for hauling the Royal Train (with special high maintenance regimes), no locomotives were dedicated solely to the train until the 1980s, when two Class 47 locomotives were painted in the claret livery of the Royal Household. During the 1990s these were dedicated solely to Royal Train duty until they were replaced in 2003 by two Class 67 locomotives, both operated by EWS (now DB Schenker Rail). The new locomotives are often used for special charter train services and on other occasional passenger services when not required. Occasionally the Royal Train is hauled by other engines.

Locomotives nominated for working the Royal Train have included:

  • 1990–2004: Class 47 47834 Fire Fly and 47835 Windsor Castle (in InterCity livery) and later refurbished, renumbered and renamed 47798 Prince William and 47799 Prince Henry (in Royal claret). Both are now withdrawn: the former is preserved at the National Railway Museum, York and the latter is at the Eden Valley Railway, Warcop.
  • Since 2004: Class 67 67005 Queen's Messenger and 67006 Royal Sovereign (in Royal claret). Since 2012 an extra locomotive, Class 67 67026 Diamond Jubilee (in Diamond Jubilee silver), has been allocated to Royal duties.

Steam locomotives[edit]

In the pre-preservation era, the Royal Train was always hauled by steam locomotives for the relevant British Rail region. Examples of royal trains hauled by preserved steam are as follows.[4] 6233 Duchess of Sutherland (an LMS Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2), 6024 King Edward I (a GWR 'King' Class 4-6-0),[5] and 60163 Tornado (a new LNER-design Peppercorn A1 4-6-2).[6]

On 11 June 2002, the restored 6233 Duchess of Sutherland was the first steam locomotive to haul the Royal Train for 35 years,[7] transporting Queen Elizabeth II on a tour to North Wales, from Holyhead to Llandudno Junction, as part of her Golden Jubilee. The trip also marked the 160th anniversary of the first Royal train in 1842.[8]

On 22 March 2005 Duchess of Sutherland again hauled the Royal Train, the second time for a steam locomotive in 40 years, transporting the Prince of Wales from Settle to Carlisle over the Settle-Carlisle Railway.[9] The trip marked the 25th anniversary of the formation of the "Friends of the Settle and Carlisle" pressure group. On the trip, the Prince spent a 15-minute spell behind the controls of the locomotive.[10]

On 10 June 2008, 6024 King Edward I hauled the Royal Train, transporting the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on board, from Kidderminster Town to Bridgnorth, on a visit to the Severn Valley Railway.[11] Once again The Prince of Wales took the controls of the locomotive for a period.[12]

On 19 February 2009 the Royal Train was hauled by the first standard-gauge steam locomotive to be built in Britain in over 40 years, 60163 Tornado, an LNER-design Peppercorn Class A1 4-6-2, with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on board, the Prince travelling in the cab.[6]

On 4 February 2010, Tornado again hauled the Royal Train, taking the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.[13]

Royal Train carriages[edit]

Historic carriages[edit]

The table below lists Royal Train carriages in chronological order to 1977. Where a separate date is shown for building, the vehicle was converted rather than built new.

Key: In service Withdrawn Preserved Returned to normal traffic Departmental use Scrapped
Number(s) Introduced Original owner Withdrawn Notes on use Current location
2 1842 London and Birmingham Railway 1850 Queen Adelaide's saloon National Railway Museum, York
- (LMS 802) 1869 London and North Western Railway 1902 Queen Victoria's saloon. Originally two vehicles until combined on one underframe in 1895. National Railway Museum, York
229 / 9001 1874 Great Western Railway 1912 Queen Victoria's saloon Small section at National Railway Museum, York
10 1877 London and South Western Railway 1925 Prince of Wales' Saloon Stoborough
8 1881 (Built 1877) Great Eastern Railway 1897 (To passenger stock) Prince of Wales' Saloon Embsay
17 1887 (Built 1885) London and South Western Railway 1913 (To passenger stock) Saloon Unknown
153 1897 Belfast and County Down Railway ? Saloon Downpatrick
233 / 9002 1897 Great Western Railway 1930 Diamond Jubilee train saloon Swindon
234 / 9003 1897 Great Western Railway 1930 Diamond Jubilee train saloon Barry
5 1898 Great Eastern Railway 1925 (To departmental stock) Princess of Wales' Saloon Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
1 1901 (Built 1898) Great North of Scotland Railway 1910 (To passenger stock) Saloon Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway
- (LMS 800) 1902 London and North Western Railway 1947 Edward VII's saloon National Railway Museum, York
- (LMS 801) 1902 London and North Western Railway 1947 Queen Alexandra's saloon National Railway Museum, York
72 / 5072 / 10504 / 804 1903 London and North Western Railway 1948 Semi-Royal saloon, used by Winston Churchill during World War II Scrapped 1998
74 / 5074 / 10506 / 806 1903 London and North Western Railway 1971 Semi-Royal saloon Bluebell Railway
82 / 109 1908 East Coast Joint Stock 1977 Royal Train brake van National Railway Museum, York
395 1908 East Coast Joint Stock 1977 Edward VII's saloon National Railway Museum, York
396 1908 East Coast Joint Stock 1977 Queen Alexandra's saloon National Railway Museum, York
1910 / 809 1912 Midland Railway 1951 (To passenger stock) George V's saloon. In passenger stock 1923–33, numbered 2795 Midland Railway - Butterley
10070 / 5154 1924 (Built 1905) London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1977 Staff car with generators in brake van National Railway Museum, Shildon
10071 / 5155 1924 (Built 1905) London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1977 Staff couchette National Railway Museum, Shildon
798 1941 London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1977 George VI's armoured saloon Museum of Transport, Glasgow
799 1941 London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1977 Queen Elizabeth's (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) armoured saloon National Railway Museum, York
31209 / 2910 1941 London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1989 Staff sleeper with generator, retained for post-1977 train Scrapped 1991
9006 1945 Great Western Railway 1984 Queen Elizabeth's (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) Saloon Midland Railway - Butterley
9007 1945 Great Western Railway 1984 Queen Elizabeth's (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) Saloon National Railway Museum, York
45000 / 2911 1948 (Built 1920) British Railways 1990 Saloon, retained for post-1977 train Midland Railway - Butterley
45005 1948 (Built 1942) British Railways 1977 Saloon Fawley Hill
45006 / 2912 1948 (Built 1942) British Railways 1989 Saloon, retained for post-1977 train Scrapped 1991
2900 1955 British Railways 1994 Royal Family lounge, bedrooms and bathroom, retained for post-1977 train Preserved, Fawley Hill Railway
499 / 2902 1956 British Railways 1994 Royal Family dining car with kitchen, retained for post-1977 train Preserved, Midland Railway - Butterley
2901 1957 British Railways 1994 Royal Household office, bedrooms and bathrooms, retained for post-1977 train Preserved, Bressingham Steam Museum
2013 / 2908 ? (Built 1958) British Railways 1984 Staff sleeper, retained for post-1977 train Preserved, Southall Railway Museum
325 / 2907 ? (Built 1961) British Railways 1993 (To passenger stock) Staff dining car with kitchen, retained for post-1977 train In passenger stock as number 325
The LNWR Royal Train travels over the Reddish Vale Viaduct in 1905.

Fleet from 1977[edit]

In 1977, the Royal Train was considerably changed to update it for use during Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee celebrations. A number of new carriages were added to the train, and old ones either refurbished or withdrawn. Since this time all Royal Train vehicles have been painted Royal Claret and numbered in a dedicated series commencing at 2900.

The new 1977 vehicles were converted Mark 3 carriages originally built for the prototype High Speed Train (HST) in the early 1970s. The new formation has a higher maximum speed, depending on the locomotive, an important factor if slots are to be found for the train on crowded main lines.

Following the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer on 29 July 1981, the honeymoon royal train configuration was formed with inspection saloon 975025 Caroline.[14][15]

The table below lists all the vehicles used in the fleet since 1977 in numerical order.

Key: In service Withdrawn Preserved Returned to normal traffic Departmental use Scrapped
Number Previous numbers Converted Intended use Current location
2900 - New (1955) Royal Family lounge, bedrooms and bathroom Preserved, Fawley Hill Railway
2901 - New (1957) Royal Household office, bedrooms and bathrooms Preserved, Bressingham Steam Museum
2902 499 New (1956) Royal Family dining car with kitchen; renumbered 1977 Preserved, Midland Railway - Butterley
2903 11001 1977 HM The Queen's lounge, bedroom and bathroom In service
2904 12001 1977 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh's lounge, bedroom and bathroom In service
2905 14105 1977 Royal Household couchette, diesel generator & brake van Returned to ordinary passenger stock, 17105
2906 14112 1977 Royal Household couchette To departmental service, 977969
2907 325 1977 Royal Household dining car with kitchen Returned to ordinary passenger stock, 325
2908 2013 1977 Royal Household sleeper Preserved, Southall Railway Museum
2909 2500 1981 Royal Household sleeper Withdrawn, West Coast Railway Company, Carnforth
2910 M31209M New (1941) Royal Household sleeper, generator & brake van; renumbered 1983 Scrapped (1991)
2911 LNWR 5000, M45000M New (1920) Special saloon; renumbered 1983 Preserved, Midland Railway - Butterley
2912 M45006M New (1942) Special saloon; renumbered 1983 Scrapped (1991)
2914 10734 1985 Royal Household sleeping car Returned to ordinary passenger stock, 10734
2915 10735 1985 Royal Household sleeping car In service
2916 40512 1986 Royal Family dining car with kitchen In service
2917 40514 1986 Royal Household dining car with kitchen In service
2918 40515 1986 Royal Household car Stored
2919 40518 1986 Royal Household car Stored
2920 14109, 17109 1986 Royal Household couchette, diesel generator & brake van In service
2921 14107, 17107 1986 Royal Household couchette, kitchen & brake van In service
2922 New (1987) HRH The Prince of Wales's sleeping car In service
2923 New (1987) HRH The Prince of Wales's saloon In service

Royal Train use[edit]

Typical 8-carriage royal train configuration of 2921, 2903, 2916, 2922, 2923, 2917, 2915, 2920 between top and tail royal Class 67s during 2012.
Royal Train Use
year end trips miles/trip Cost/year
2011 31 March 2011 14 931 £900,000
2010 31 March 2010 19 751 £1,000,000
2009 31 March 2009 14 696 £800,000
2008 31 March 2008 19 755 £900,000
2007 31 March 2007 11 655 £700,000
2006 31 March 2006 14 700 £600,000
2005 31 March 2005 19 691 £700,000
2004 31 March 2004 18 736 £800,000

Although this type of travel is expensive compared to scheduled services, the train enables members of the Royal Family to carry out busy schedules over an extended period, in a secure environment that minimises disruption and inconvenience to the public and provides accommodation and office facilities. On at least one occasion, The Prince of Wales has conducted a dinner meeting on board the train. Some members of Parliament have argued that the Royal Train, like the Royal Yacht, is an expensive under-used relic. However, the train is recognised as being a very secure way for the octogenarian queen to complete overnight trips. The cost of the Royal Train when it was introduced in 1977 for The Queen's Silver Jubilee was £1.9 million (£10,299,608 as of 2014),[16] and has since been considerably reduced.[17] Edward Leigh, the Conservative chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the Royal Train was twice as expensive as using air travel but hardly luxurious. He said, "It's a rather Formica-laminated affair. I don't think it's that grand or that comfortable." It appears that much of the public that has a sentimental view of the train and would like to see it used for the Diamond Jubilee in June 2012 after its use for the Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee.

In the financial year 2011 the Royal Train was used for 14 trips, averaging 931 miles. Ten trips were by The Prince of Wales, and four by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Nineteen nights were spent on the train during the course of the 14 trips. To control costs, Parliament permits the Royal Train to be used only by The Queen with The Duke of Edinburgh, or The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Royal Train, Monarchy of the United Kingdom. Accessed 31 December 2007.
  2. ^ "THE PROCESSION IN LONDON.; SCENE AT VICTORIA STATION. THE FUNERAL TRAIN ARRIVES. THE ROYAL MOURNERS. KAISER EASILY RECOGNIZED. AT PADDINGTON STATION.", The New York Times, 3 February 1901. Accessed 31 December 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Chamberlain, Gethin. "Royal Express is more Pizza than Orient", The Scotsman, 4 May 2002. Accessed 31 December 2007.
  4. ^ In preservation examples include the visit of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on 10 July 2008: "Full steam ahead on the royal railway". The Telegraph and Argus. 
  5. ^ The Railway Magazine (December 2008): p.7. 
  6. ^ a b "Royal couple name new steam train". BBC News Online. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2009. .
  7. ^ "Jubilee tour diary: Wales walkabout". BBC News Online. 13 June 2002. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  8. ^ "The Queen's Golden Jubilee Journal". Insight Magazine. www.thedukeofyork.org. 
  9. ^ "HRH spends a day in Cumbria and Yorkshire". www.princeofwales.gov.uk. 22 March 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  10. ^ "Prince Charles takes steam train". BBC News Online. 22 March 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Prince to take control of SVR train". Wolverhampton Express and Star. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Severn Valley Railway". Bewdley Station. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  13. ^ "Tornado pulls Royal Train into MOSI". MOSI. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  14. ^ Newby, Howard; Railway Heritage Committee (12 October 2009). "Artefacts Sub­-committee". Annual Report 2008–2009: 7,9. http://www.dft.gov.uk/rhc/downloads/RHC_Annual_Report_2008-09.pdf. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  15. ^ Railway Heritage Committee (13 March 2009). "Designation of 'Caroline' – 12.12.08". News. Department for Transport. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  16. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  17. ^ "Royal train's inside story". BBC News. 4 September 2002. Retrieved 31 December 2009.