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A royal train is a set of railway carriages dedicated for the use of the monarch or other members of a royal family. Most monarchies with a railway system employ a set of royal carriages.
- 1 Australia
- 2 Belgium
- 3 Canada
- 4 Denmark
- 5 Germany
- 6 Japan
- 7 Morocco
- 8 The Netherlands
- 9 Norway
- 10 Romania
- 11 Russian Empire
- 12 South Africa
- 13 Sweden
- 14 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- 15 Outside of monarchies
- 16 See also
- 17 References
- 18 Literature
- 19 External links
Belgium no longer has a royal train. There are still historic royal coaches preserved, though they are rarely shown to the public. From the royal coaches that served for King Leopold II and King Albert I are preserved the three most important royal coaches. From the royal coaches that served for King Leopold III and King Baudouin are preserved: the drawing room coach (with private rest compartment for the king), the dining coach (with big and private dining compartment and kitchen) and the sleeping coach for the king and queen (with small drawing room, sleeping compartments, bathing compartments with bathtub and compartments for the staff).
For rail transport during visits of heads of state to Belgium, there is a possibility of using a first-class SNCB I11 coach with seats partially removed and a set of armchairs put in the middle of the coach. This arrangement was used for the first time on 30 May 2002 during the state visit of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, for a trip from Bruges to Brussels-South, and a second time during the state visit of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on 22 June 2006 for a trip from Schaarbeek to Liège-Guillemins.
- 1860 – Grand Trunk Railway: Prince of Wales (later as King Edward VII)
- 1901 – Canadian Pacific Railway: Duke of York (later as King George V)
- 1906 – Canadian Pacific Railway: Duke of Connaught (Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn)
- 1939 – Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark received for her 60th birthday (2000) a new royal coach with a drawing room, sleeping compartments and kitchen. She used this royal coach for the state visit to Belgium, travelling the night of 27–28 May 2002 from Denmark to Brussels-South and returning from there to Denmark on the evening of 30 May 2002. The coach and the accompanying sleeping car for the staff were hooked to normal trains, except for the part from Aachen to Brussels, where it ran as a special train to allow for the arrival on a reserved platform where the press were waiting.
Germany consisted of more than 30 states – most of them monarchies – when railways came into existence. In the beginning the royalty used first class coaches or first class compartments within public coaches and trains. So prince Frederick of Prussia (later German Emperor) travelled in a first class compartment in 1851 when the train derailed in the vicinity of Gütersloh.
But soon most of these kings, great dukes and princes possessed their own private coaches or trains. In other cases the railway companies provided such coaches and rented them to royalty. Complementary to those private coaches and trains were private reception rooms in the station buildings and in some cases even private railway stations for the exclusive use of these privileged few. A well-preserved example is Potsdam Park Sanssouci railway station, a railway station for the use of Emperor Wilhelm II. near his summer palace, the New Palace in Potsdam.
King Frederick William IV of Prussia purchased a set of royal coaches in 1857. They run on two and three axles and were painted in a chestnut brown. None of these survived until today. After 30 years of use they became technically outdated. So in 1889 the new emperor, Wilhelm II., who was always very interested in engineering and technological developments started to order new coaches. Until the end of his reign in 1918 it would be about 30. These run on boogies with either two or three axles and were painted in flashy blue and ecru which contrasted very much against ordinary coaches of the day which showed usually green, grey or brown. Only during World War I the imperial coaches were painted green. The private car of the emperor is on display in the German Museum of Technology, Berlin, the private car of the empress in the museum of former Linke-Hofmann-Busch GmbH (today: Alstom Transport Deutschland GmbH) who built the coach.
Also the kings of Saxony, Wurttemberg and Bavaria possessed their own trains. Two royal coaches of a most splendid design used by king Ludwig II of Bavaria are preserved in the Nuremberg Transport Museum, the king’s personal coach as well as a terrace-coach, by half open-air.
The Weimar Republic inherited about 100 of these royal cars, a number far larger than useful for President and government. So no new cars were built but some of the old ones used. Others where used in luxury trains or in ordinary services, especially dining cars, or as sleepers. Lots of them were also converted to departmental vehicles.
After 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power he as well as Hermann Göring ordered complete modern trains for their use, other top officials as well as top generals of the Wehrmacht were equipped with personal coaches. At least 78 such vehicles were built and intensively used. During World War II trains of this stock were used from time to time as movable headquarters. During WW II some of these coaches were damaged or destroyed The saloon of Adolf Hitler e.g. was blasted by German troops in the last days of WW II.
Post War Period
German Federal Republic
After World War II quite a number of the saloon coaches built under Nazi rule proved fit for further use. So the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as its Chancellors Konrad Adenauer, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt used them, as well as guests of state to the Federal Republic of Germany. The most prominent use of a whole set of these coaches was during the state visit of Elizabeth II when the queen toured for several days on a special train through the Federal Republic in 1965. The most prominent use of some of these coaches was the visit of Chancellor Willy Brandt to his East German counterpart Willi Stoph in Erfurt in 1970. One single saloon coach was built after WW II for Deutsche Bundesbahn in 1974, originally for the use of the Federal Chancellor, but it was always possible for private persons or parties to rent the coaches. From the 1980s on politicians used them less and less changing to air transport. Today most of the coaches are owned by railway museums or railway fan-clubs. During the 2009 electoral campaign, Angela Merkel also used a train that had been used by Konrad Adenauer in the 1950s for political purposes.
German Democratic Republic
Also in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the head of state, government and top politicians of the reigning communist party used pre-war rolling stock for transport. In the late 1960s two special trains were newly constructed: One for the heads of party and state, another one for the army. The most prominent use of the government train was in 1970 when the prime minister of the GDR met the chancellor of West Germany on his return visit in Kassel. After the unification of Germany in 1990 these trains and coaches proved redundant and were sold to private hands.
In Japan, trains for the emperor, the empress, or the empress dowager are called Omeshi Ressha (お召し列車?), literally meaning "trains that they use", albeit with extremely polite word for "use". Trains for the other members of the imperial family are called Gojōyō Ressha (御乗用列車?), meaning "trains to ride" in slightly more common language. However, both Omeshi Ressha and Gojōyō Ressha refer to a non-scheduled service solely operated for the imperial family. Dedicated imperial carriages were owned by Japanese National Railways (JNR), and these came under the control of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) following privatisation. The dedicated locomotive-hauled set was retired in the 2000s and replaced by the specially-built E655 series EMU, which can also be used as a VIP charter trainset.
In the modern period, imperial trains are used less and less, as the current emperor Akihito generally travels by air, or regular scheduled trains with a reserved carriage. Imperial trains are still operated occasionally, but they mainly function as a cordial reception for state guests, rather than transportation of the imperial family.
The Moroccan royal train was composed of SPV-2000 railcars produced by Budd Company in the US and delivered in the early 1980s. The royal train consists of two self-propelled cars. After King Hassan II died his successor, King Mohammed VI, stopped using the royal train.
The Dutch State Railways uses a single royal carriage to transport the king and his family. It was ordered by the Dutch royal family in 1991, and construction was finished in 1993. It replaced a previous two-carriage royal train built in 1930, which is currently on display in the Dutch Railway Museum. In 2012 two more carriages were added to the royal train. These former first class passenger carriages were slightly modified and painted blue for use in the royal train. However, they are not available for international use, unlike the royal carriage itself, which is an International Coach Regulations carriage allowed in 16 different countries. When the king travels by train, a single (diesel) locomotive travels ahead to explore the tracks. The train itself is composed of two ordinary locomotives of the Dutch State Railways (head and tail of the train), the royal carriage itself, and, since 2012, the two slightly modified first class passenger carriages for staff, press and other guests. Before 2012, instead of the two extra carriages, two ordinary first class passenger carriages were added. Usually those carriages were the most luxurious type NS had available.
The Norwegian Royal Train is a set of train carriages used by the Norwegian royal family and maintained by Norges Statsbaner (Norwegian State Railways). The current set was introduced in 1994 in connection with the Lillehammer Olympics and replaced a set from 1962, that had consisted of B3 carriages named A1. The set contains a main sleeping compartment with dressing room and adjoining bathroom, two guest compartments, guest bathroom, kitchen, guard compartments and a combined dining and conference room.
The set is pulled by ordinary railway locomotives and most often ordinary passenger carriages for press and other guests are added.
The Romanian Royal Train was ordered by HM King Ferdinand I of Romania in 1926 to Ernesto Breda/Construzioni Meccaniche plants in Milan. It was delivered in 1928, one year after King Ferdinand's death. It was subsequently used by Queen Marie of Romania, King Michael I of Romania, Queen-Mother Elena of Romania and King Carol II of Romania. Details (in Romanian) are available on the official website of the Romanian Royal Family.
The train is composed of one steam-engine locomotive (under restoration, for the moment) and five railway cars: the Dining Car, the King's Car, the Queen's Car, the Guests Car and the Royal House Personnel's Car.
On January 3, 1948 King Michael I and his mother, Queen Elena were forced into exile by the newly installed Communist authorities. After a thorough, humiliating luggage search for values (the only personal possessions allowed were 4 automobiles, loaded on a separate truck), the King left Romania (from Sinaia) for Austria, in the Royal Train, with tightly closed (darkened) windows and under strict Communist military supervision. The Royal Family was in exile until 1997, when the first post-1989 non-Communist government of Victor Ciorbea revoked their loss of citizenship.
During the Communist era, the train was used occasionally by the Communist rulers of Romania, especially by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.
Starting 2012, the Royal Train is occasionally used by the Romanian Royal Family (HRH Crown Princess Margareta of Romania, the eldest daughter of HM King Michael) for public events, mainly trips with symbolic significance. For example, in 2016, the train made two trips. The first one was on December 1 (celebration of National Union of Romania) one the route Sinaia, Bușteni, Predeal, Brașov, Codlea, Făgăraş, Avrig and Sibiu and it was met with huge public appreciation and participation at stops, including that from public authorities (mayors) - pictures on the official Royal Blog. The second trip was in remembrance of the Royal Family, Parliament and Government retreat from Bucharest to Iași in World War I, during the German occupation of Bucharest. The second trip was also met with great public enthusiasm and participation (see here)
The catastrophic derailment of the Russian Royal Train on October 17, 1888 killed 21 people; Alexander III himself, along with his wife and children, however, survived. After this accident, a so-called Temporary Imperial Train was composed of several surviving cars of the wrecked train, with the addition of several converted passenger cars of the Nikolayevskaya Railway. The emperor also had at his disposal a standard gauge Imperial Train, used for traveling to Europe; this train set was purchased by the Russian Railway Ministry from Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée in the 1870s, and was deemed to be technologically obsolescent.
Accordingly, new standard-gauge and broad-gauge trains for the use of the Imperial Court were constructed. The new broad-gauge Imperial Train for domestic travel became ready in time for the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896. Initially the train consisted of 7 cars, purpose-built at the Aleksandrovsky Railway Factory in St Petersburg. Later, the size of the train was increased to 10 cars. The old "temporary" train in the meantime was transferred for use of Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna.
The three-month-long British royal family tour of South Africa in 1947 saw the ordering of eight ivory-painted air-conditioned saloons from Britain, three of which were built to Blue Train sleeping car standards, while the remaining five were special saloons for use by the royal family and Field Marshal Jan Smuts, the South African prime minister.
After the tour the Blue Train type saloons were painted in matching livery to serve on the Blue Train, while the remaining special saloons became part of the White Train used exclusively by the governor-general and later the president of South Africa.
Sweden's first royal train was put into service in 1874 for the use of king Oscar II. It consisted of five cars; a car for meetings, a car for dining, a "living-room" car, a sleeping car for the king and another sleeping car for the queen. The different cars were rebuild and refurbished many times and many of them are now on display at the Swedish Railway Museum in Gävle. The last royal train car to be built was in 1931 for king Gustav V. It was used on king Gustav V's many trips from Sweden to Nice in southern France as a through coach connected to regular trains. King Gustav V's royal car remained in use for several of his successors and was also used by the present king Carl XVI Gustaf and his family on their trips to the mountains in northern Sweden, as a through coach connected to regular trains. In the year 2001 the last royal car was taken out of regular service and is now on display at the Swedish Railway Museum, however it has been put back into service for special occasions since; the museum is connected by rail to the regular network and some of the cars on display can rather easily be brought back to service.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to travel by train, on 13 June 1842, when she travelled on the Great Western Railway (GWR), which ran the line between London and Windsor (for Windsor Castle). Soon, other major British railway companies had their own carriage(s) dedicated for use by the royal family or other dignitaries.
In 1948, upon the formation of British Railways, the individual regions continued to maintain their own royal train carriages. A single "Royal Train" was only formed in 1977 as a response to the demands of the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. This train has been maintained since privatisation of Britain's railways by EWS, now DB Schenker Rail (UK), although the royal family has travelled on ordinary service trains more frequently in recent years to minimise costs.
Outside of monarchies
Rail transport, in the form of special trains have been widely used by the leaders of countries that are/were not monarchies (i.e. republics or dictatorships of various kinds) as well, while private rail cars attached to regular passenger trains have been maintained and used by the rich. Presidents of the USA often traveled in presidential railcars; Soviet leaders had their special trains as well. (One of Leonid Brezhnev's rail cars is preserved at the Pokrovsk Station in Engels City, and Shcherbytsky's car, in Kiev.) Leaders of North Korea, starting from Kim Il-Sung, had their own fleet of private trains.
- Presidential train
- Royal yacht
- Official state car
- Air transports of heads of state and government
- North Korean leaders' trains
- Presidential Railcars (USA)
- German language Wikipedia: Eisenbahnunfall von Avenwedde.
- Peter Bock, Alfred Gottwaldt: Regierungszüge. Salonwagen, Kaiserbahnhöfe und Staatsfahrten in Deutschland. München 2006, ISBN 3-7654-7070-8, p. 14.
- Alfred Gottwaldt: Der Hofzug sr. Majestät des Deutschen Kaisers, Königs von Preußen. Modelleisenbahner Verlag. [o.J., ca. 1992]; Helmut Schroeter: Der Hofzug des letzten deutschen Kaisers. In: Lok-Magazin 9 (1964), S. 37.
- Magistrat der Stadt Potsdam (Hrsg.): Katalog. Europäische Salonwagenausstellung vom 22. – 23. Mai 1993 auf dem Gelände des Raw Potsdam. Potsdam 1993, p. 64, No. 33.
- Paul Sauer: Regent mit mildem Zepter. König Karl von Württemberg. Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-421-05181-X, p. 241.
- Ralf Romann Rossberg: König Ludwig II. auf Achse. In: Peter Bock, Alfred Gottwaldt: Regierungszüge. Salonwagen, Kaiserbahnhöfe und Staatsfahrten in Deutschland. München 2006, ISBN 3-7654-7070-8, p. 52.
- Walter Haberling: Reichsbahn - Salonwagen. Bauarten und Einsätze zur Reichsbahn- und Bundesbahnzeit. Freiburg 2010.
- Andreas Burow: Die Flakwagen der Regierungszüge der Reichsregierung im Dritten Reich. In: Jahrbuch für Eisenbahngeschichte 39 (2007/2008), S. 25-38. ISBN 978-3-937189-29-1.
- Bruno Rebbelmund: Die Salonberatungs- und Salonnachrichtenwagen in den Führerzügen der Reichsregierung im Dritten Reich. In: Jahrbuch für Eisenbahngeschichte 40 (2008/2009), S. 65-82. ISBN 978-3-937189-35-2
- Sonja Günther: Salonwagen im "Dritten Reich". Karlsruhe 1979, ISBN 3-921700-27-2. (Eisenbahnen und Museen 23)
- Fritz Engbarth: Der General vor der Rückkehr. In: Eisenbahn-Kurier. Nr. 395/Jahrgang 39/2005 (Augustheft). EK-Verlag, S. 34-35; Lok-Report. Ausgabe 01/2006; LokMagazin. Dezember 2007, p. 21.
- Klaus Bossig: Sonderfahrzeuge der Deutschen Reichsbahn. Die Führungszüge der Ministerien für Verkehrswesen und für Nationale Verteidigung. Freiburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-88255-704-6
- Boudarham, Mohammed (April 10, 2009). "Nostalgie. La fabuleuse histoire du train royal". TelQuel (in French).
- Page at the official site of the Dutch Royal Family about the royal train (Dutch)
- Dagbladet article on the new Royal Train (Norwegian)
- Malevinsky 1900, p. 1
- Malevinsky 1900, pp. 2–4
- Radzinsky, Edvard (2011), The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II Edition unabridged, reprint, Random House LLC, pp. 187–188, ISBN 0307754626 horizontal tab character in
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- The Herald Online
- The Blue Train
- Станция Покровск. Правительственный вагон-салон Archived 8 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine. (Pokrovsk Station. Government Railcar) (Russian), with photos
- Malevinsky, P (П.Малевинский) (1900), Императорский ширококолейный поезд для путешествий по России постройки 1896 - 1897 гг. Составлено под руководством Временного Строительного Комитета по постройке Императорских поездов инженером П. Малевинским (Imperial broad-gauge train for travel in Russia, constructed in 1896-1897. Compiled by Engineer P. Malevinsky under the guidance of the Temporary Construction Committee for the Construction of Imperial Trains) (PDF) (in Russian), МПС России (Russia's Ministry of the Means of Transportation) (Individual illustrations from this book can also be found at this page: Императорский ширококолейный поезд для путешествий по России)
Flickr Group : Clerestory Coaches (Railways) with pictures of many historical Royal and Presidential trains, of Clerestory design. The collection includes coaches from over 20 countries, including many built during the 19th Century.