Pullman Express

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The emblem of the CIWL

As a Pullman train or Pullman Express were from Pullman existing luxury express trains designated day travel by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) between 1926 and the beginning of World War II were operated in 1939 in several European countries. They belonged to the train category of luxury trains and ran on shorter distances that could be covered in one day. Luxury trains on longer routes with sleeping cars , dining cars and saloon cars that ran overnight were not referred to as the Pullman Express.


After its founding in 1876, the CIWL initially operated individual sleeping and dining cars , which were provided to normal express trains of the European railway administrations. With the introduction of the Orient Express in 1883, the CIWL also began to build up a network of luxury trains which, due to the long distances and the necessary night journeys, initially consisted exclusively of sleeping and dining cars and baggage cars . Very soon the wealthy clientele of CIWL also wanted comfortable cars and trains for journeys during the day. The company initially reacted by introducing individual saloon cars that were attached to some luxury trains on individual daily routes. The CIWL introduced the first pure saloon car train in 1886 on the route from Paris to the seaside resort of Trouville . The saloon cars used were compartment cars with particularly spacious and luxuriously designed compartments.

As early as 1874, the American Pullman Palace Car Company began using the first Pullman cars as sleeping and saloon cars in Europe . In 1874 the first regular train with Pullman cars ran between London and Bradford on the routes of the Midland Railway . In the same year, the first Pullman wagons were also used on the Italian SFAI routes . Wagons on French railways such as the Northern Railway followed. However, the CIWL managed to conclude exclusive contracts with most of the railways on the European mainland, so that Pullman withdrew from the local business in 1886 and only remained active in Great Britain.

After the company's founder's death, the Pullman company gradually lost interest in doing business in Great Britain, especially since many railway companies have now switched to using their own sleeping and dining cars. In 1906, according to other sources, not until 1908, the British publisher and politician Davison Dalziel acquired the British Pullman company from the American parent company, both the rolling stock and the ongoing contracts with the railway companies. Above all, however, he was given the right to name his wagons and trains with the name “Pullman” and to use the name accordingly throughout Europe. At that time, Dalziel had been a member of the CIWL's board of directors since 1903. On a trial basis, the CIWL already used some English Pullman saloon cars in 1908, but this attempt remained.

From 1919 Dalziel was chairman of the CIWL board of directors. In 1925 he sold the majority of the British Pullman Car Company to the CIWL - the Pullman company thus passed into the possession of its former largest competitor. These ownership relationships were withheld by the CIWL until the mid-1970s, and officially the two companies only worked together on a friendly basis.

Since taking over the Pullman company, Dalziel had also expanded its network of carriage and train routes. This also included various day trains with Pullman cars only, such as the Brighton Belle between London and Brighton. The design as a salon-like open space and the on-site service , for which some of the cars were given kitchens, were characteristic of the cars. Dalziel urged the CIWL to introduce comparable trains on the continent, but the First World War stopped all activities in that direction, and the CIWL had to discontinue its luxury trains in 1914 with a few exceptions.

Pullman Express trains from 1925 to 1939

Pullman cars of CIWL , now in the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express used
First departure of the “Flèche d'Or” in Paris in 1926
1st class compartment in the CIWL Pullman car 4018
Interior of a “Flèche d'Or” Pullman car

It was not until 1925 that the economic situation in Europe had stabilized to such an extent that the CIWL introduced its first pure pullman suits on the continent. For the first train between Milan and Cannes , wagons from the British Pullman company were used on loan. After this Milano-Nizza-Pullman-Express , which was first used on December 15, 1925, quickly proved to be a success, the CIWL soon introduced more Pullman suits. In 1926, the French train part of the Sud-Express Pullman car, which had previously operated with older saloon cars and dining cars, was also given. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the CIWL finally established the Flèche d'Or between Paris and Calais as part of the important connection to London. On the British side, the Golden Arrow was introduced as a counterpart, although it was still known as the Continental Express or simply the London Pullman until 1929 .

In the following years the CIWL introduced a total of 24 Pullman Express trains in continental Europe by 1933. Only some of the trains were able to establish themselves in the timetable in the long term, especially the global economic crisis that began in 1929 meant that the CIWL discontinued some of the Pullman trains after just a few timetable periods. What all trains had in common was the exclusive use of open-plan Pullman cars and integrated kitchens with service at the seat. One car with and one without a kitchen were used together as a coupling position. Most pullman suits consisted of two to three coupling layers, but there were also short trains with just one coupling layer. Some of the trains also carried baggage carts. In the course books, the trains were classified in the class of luxury trains analogous to the CIWL sleeping car trains .

Most pullman suits were used in domestic traffic in France , Italy and Romania , where the CIWL introduced various pullman suits from Paris, Milan and Bucharest to major cities and tourist destinations. Some of the Pullman suits ran as international train runs, which, in addition to the countries mentioned, also ran to the Benelux countries and Switzerland . Only one train, the Ostend-Cologne-Pullman-Express , ran into the German Reich . With the Golden Mountain Pullman Express , a Pullman train even ran on meter gauge in Switzerland . Outside Europe, CIWL also used a Pullman suit in Egypt for a few years with the Sunshine Pullman Express between Cairo and Luxor . In addition to the Pullman Express trains, individual Pullman wagons or couplings were also used in normal express trains, and individual wagons were also used on a trial basis in some of the CIWL's luxury sleeping car trains, for example in the Arlberg Orient Express in 1930 . The CIWL reached the peak of the Pullman network in 1930 when it used a total of 200 Pullman cars. In 1939 the number had dropped to 110.

The Deutsche Reichsbahn adopted the Pullman principle for the wagons of their Rheingold , which was newly introduced in 1928, between Amsterdam or Hoek van Holland and Switzerland. The wagons were operated by the Mitropa . The Rheingold, however, was not classified in the "luxury train" (L) train type, nor was it referred to as a pullman train. In the Reichsbahn timetable it was listed as a long-distance express train (FD) .

After some of the trains had to be stopped earlier due to a lack of demand, the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 led to an abrupt end. All Pullman Express trains were discontinued in early September 1939, even in initially neutral countries such as Romania. The Pullman cars, which were also used as individual cars in various express trains, were also parked or used for military purposes, for example as command cars.

post war period

Most pullman suits in Western Europe were discontinued after 1945. Only the Sud-Express and the Flèche d'Or initially came back into operation as independent Pullman suits. The Étoile du Nord and the Oiseau Bleu between Paris and Amsterdam also came back into operation as Pullman suits, but were soon supplemented with normal seating cars. Other trains such as the Edelweiss were also reintroduced and received individual Pullman cars, but were no longer pure Pullman suits. With the introduction of the Trans-Europ-Express trains in 1957, some of these trains were incorporated into the TEE network. The pullman suits in Romania remained completely discontinued. Until the nationalization of sleeping and dining car operations, the CIWL in Romania still used individual Pullman cars in express trains to Galați and Constanța from 1945 to 1947 . The last Pullman cars were withdrawn from scheduled use in France and Italy in 1971, but were used by the CIWL for a few years for special services.

Overview of the Pullman suits in service between 1925 and 1939

The trains listed below completely ceased operations at the beginning of World War II; as an exception, the Sud-Express continued until the German occupation of France, but with normal seated cars. Only some of the trains were returned to the timetables after 1945, but mostly as normal express trains to which individual Pullman cars were added.

Train name Routing First drive attitude particularities
Milano – Nice-Pullman-Express Milan - San Remo - Ventimiglia - Nice - Cannes December 15, 1925 April 30, 1934 only running in the winter schedule
Milano – Venezia-Pullman-Express Milan - Verona - Venice July 1, 1926 1929
Milano – Montecatini-Pullman-Express Milan - Genoa - Montecatini Terme July 1, 1926 1929
Milano – Livorno Pullman Express Milan - Genoa - Livorno July 1, 1926 1929
Sud Express Paris - Bordeaux - Irun / Hendaye August 22, 1926 September 1939 from 1939 with normal passenger coaches, between 1947 and 1971 individual Pullman coaches
Flèche d'Or Calais - Paris Gare du Nord September 11, 1926 1972 Between 1947 and 1950 again Pullman suits, then with normal passenger coaches and individual Pullman coaches
Étoile du Nord Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam May 5, 1927 September 1939 from 1946 with normal passenger coaches and individual Pullman coaches, from 1957 as TEE
Londres – Vichy Pullman Express Boulogne - Paris - Vichy May 14, 1927 September 19, 1930
Calais-Bruxelles-Pullman-Express Calais - Lille - Brussels May 15, 1927 1938
Torino – Nice – Cannes-Pullman-Express Turin - San Remo - Ventimiglia - Nice - Cannes July 1, 1927 September 1927
Milano – Ancona-Pullman-Express Milan - Bologna - Ancona July 1, 1927 September 1939
Deauville Pullman Express Paris - Trouville - Deauville July 9, 1927 September 5, 1927
Gotthard Pullman Express Basel / Zurich - Gotthard Railway - Milan September 1, 1927 October 3, 1930 in the summer of 1930 and 1931 as the Gotthard Oberland Pullman Express between Paris and Milan
Edelweiss Amsterdam - Brussels - Luxembourg - Basel - Lucerne / Zurich June 15, 1928 September 1939 from 1946 with normal passenger coaches and individual Pullman coaches, from 1957 as TEE
Torino – Milano – Venezia-Pullman-Express Turin - Milan - Venice July 1, 1928 August 31, 1928
Paris – Côte Belge Pullman Express Paris - Ostend / Blankenberge / Knokke July 1, 1928 August 31, 1928
Roma-Napoli-Pullman-Express Rome - Naples March 16, 1929 June 30, 1929
Oiseau Bleu Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam May 16, 1929 September 1939 from 1946 as a normal express train with individual Pullman cars, from 1957 as TEE
Andalucia Pullman Express Seville - Bobadilla - Granada / Málaga June 27, 1929 June 30, 1930 Car operated by the CIWL but owned by the Compañía de los Ferrocarriles Andaluces
Ostend-Cologne-Pullman-Express Ostend - Brussels - Liège - Cologne July 1, 1929 September 1939
Carpati – Pullman Express Bucharest - Sinaia - Brașov July 1, 1929 September 20, 1931
Dunarea Pullman Express Bucharest - Galați September 6, 1929 September 1939 from 1932 referred to as “Danubiu-Pullman-Express”
Sunshine Pullman Express Cairo - Luxor November 1, 1929 September 1939 only running in the winter schedule
French Riviera Pullman Express Paris - Marseille - Nice - Ventimiglia December 10, 1929 September 1939 only running in the winter schedule
Golden Mountain Pullman Express Montreux - Zweisimmen - Interlaken June 15, 1931 September 10, 1931 Montreux – Zweisimmen section in meter gauge, change of train in Zweisimmen
Fulgur Rule Carol I. Bucharest - Constanța May 22, 1933 September 1939

Web links

Wiktionary: Pullman suit  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • George Behrend : Great Express Trains in Europe. The history of the wagon lits . Orell Füssli Verlag, Zurich 1967
  • George Behrend: History of Luxury Trains. Orell Füssli, Zurich 1977, ISBN 3-280-00918-9 .
  • Albert Mühl: International luxury trains . EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1991, ISBN 3-88255-673-0
  • Albert Mühl: Sleeping car in Germany . EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1996, ISBN 3-88255-680-3
  • Albert Mühl, Jürgen Klein: Traveling in luxury trains. The International Sleeping Car Society. EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2006, ISBN 3-88255-696-X
  • Renzo Perret: The history of the CIWL. The Pullman car. Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-440-05612-0
  • Fritz Stöckl , Claude Jeanmaire: Comfort on rails: sleeping cars, dining cars and saloon cars of the European railways. Publishing house for railway and tram literature, Basel 1970.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albert Mühl, Jürgen Klein: Traveling in luxury trains. The International Sleeping Car Society. EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2006, p. 349
  2. George Behrend: History of the luxury trains. Orell Füssli, Zurich 1977, p. 19
  3. a b George Behrend: History of the luxury trains. Orell Füssli, Zurich 1977, p. 23
  4. ^ A b Albert Mühl, Jürgen Klein: Traveling in luxury trains. The International Sleeping Car Society. EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2006, p. 344
  5. ^ Albert Mühl: International luxury trains . EK-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1991, p. 181
  6. George Behrend: History of the luxury trains. Orell Füssli, Zurich 1977, p. 120
  7. ^ Fritz Stöckl, Claude Jeanmaire: Comfort on rails: sleeping cars, dining cars and saloon cars of the European railways. Publishing house for railway and tram literature, Basel 1970, p. 153