Saphir (train)

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Service typeFT
Trans Europ Express (TEE)
InterCity (IC)
StatusReplaced by EuroCity Memling
First service23 May 1954 (1954-05-23)
Last service30 May 1987 (1987-05-30)
Former operator(s)Deutsche Bundesbahn
(1954–66; 1981–87)
Brussels (1966–81)
Dortmund (1954–58)
Frankfurt (1958–80)
Cologne (1980–87)
Service frequencyDaily
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Route map
TEE Saphir (red) and the connecting TEE Rhein–Main (blue) in the 1957 network

The Saphir was an express train operated by the Deutsche Bundesbahn linking the port of Ostend with Dortmund as part of a link between London and the Ruhr. The name Saphir, German for sapphire, refers to the Belgian gemstone industry.[1]



The initial service started in 1954[2][3] as post-war successor of the Ostend–Cologne Pullman Express.[2] Its schedule was coordinated with an Ostend–Dover ferry run and a Dover–London train, and overall the schedule that came into effect with the Saphir's introduction "permitt[ed] passengers leaving London (Victoria) at 10:00 to reach destinations in the Rhine–Ruhr district of Germany some three hours earlier than formerly".[2]

The service used a class DB Class VT 08 [de] diesel multiple unit. In its early years, the Saphir was referred to as the "Sapphire" in English publications,[2] but by 1963 even the English Cook's Continental Timetable was calling it by its German name, Saphir.[4]

Trans Europ Express[edit]

The Saphir was upgraded to a first-class-only Trans Europ Express (TEE) on 2 June 1957.[5] The VT 08 were replaced by DB Class VT 11.5 trainsets as soon as these were available, on 15 July 1957. The timetable was designed to provide a TEE link from Brussels to Frankfurt am Main as well as a connection with the TEE Rhein–Main in Cologne. After one year of service the Saphir's route itself was altered with Frankfurt instead of Dortmund being the German terminus. In 1966, the route was cut back from Ostend to Brussels, making the TEE Saphir's route Brussels–Frankfurt.


On 27 May 1979, the Saphir was downgraded to a two-class InterCity train,[6] without any change to its route. In June 1980, the eastern terminus was moved back to the Ruhr district, but to Cologne rather than Dortmund.[7] In 1981, the route was re-extended from Brussels to Ostend, making the Saphir's route now Ostend – Brussels – Cologne.

On 31 May 1987, with the launch of the new EuroCity network, the Saphir was replaced by the EC Memling.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ TEE, p. 20.
  2. ^ a b c d "Stop Press" (service changes taking effect). Cook's Continental Timetable (May 23–June 17, 1954 edition), p. 8. London: Thomas Cook & Son, Ltd.
  3. ^ TEE Züge in Deutschland, p. 87.
  4. ^ "Table 15: Saphir". Cooks Continental Timetable (February 1963 edition), p. 59. London: Thomas Cook & Son, Ltd.
  5. ^ La Légende des TEE, p. 188.
  6. ^ Thomas Cook Continental Timetable (May 27 – June 30, 1979 edition), pp. 6, 99. Peterborough, UK: Thomas Cook Publishing.
  7. ^ Thomas Cook International Timetable (March 1–April 5, 1980 edition), pp. 96–97, 581–582. Thomas Cook Publishing.
  8. ^ "Summer services, 1987" (changes taking effect). Thomas Cook Continental Timetable (May 1–30, 1987 edition), p. 51; also pp. 67, 475. Peterborough, UK: Thomas Cook Publishing.

Works cited[edit]

  • Public relations UIC (1972). TEE (in Dutch). Paris: Union International des Chemins de Fer.
  • Goette, Peter (2008). TEE-Züge in Deutschland (in German). Freiburg: EK-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88255-698-8.
  • Mertens, Maurice; Malaspina, Jean-Pierre (2007). La Légende des Trans Europ Express (in French). Vannes: LR Presse. ISBN 978-29-036514-5-9.