The “Edelweiss Pullman” at Luxembourg. It is headed by one of the monster 4-
IT has been my good fortune during the past summer to “discover” a new gateway to the Alps. I had tried most of the best-
The “Edelweiss Pullman” now makes possible an “all-
Let me now be a little more explicit. My journey was made, first from Liverpool Street Station in London to Parkeston Quay.
Harwich, and thence across to Antwerp in Belgium. The “Eielweiss Pullman” runs every day between Amsterdam in Holland and, during the height of the summer season, Lucerne and Zurich in Switzerland, the train being divided at Basel in order that one half may go to the former town and the other half to the latter. The route is right down through Belgium and the little Duchy of Luxembourg, and then on through Lorraine and Alsace -
There are some who prefer the rival attractions of the German “Rheingold Express” to those of the “Edelweiss Pullman" when entering Switzerland from this direction. But the “Rheingold” journey, with its fine scenic route up the Rhine from Cologne, means leaving Liverpool Street 15 minutes earlier, by the Hook Continental; crossing from Parkeston Quay to the Hook of Holland; starting to get dressed soon after five o’clock in the morning and, what is more, while the ship is still on the open sea -
As compared with this, the Antwerp boat allows you to sleep until you are cruising peacefully up the quiet waters of the River Scheldt. Then, at your leisure, you get up at about seven o’clock, take a turn round the deck in the morning sun, have your last good English breakfast down in the dining saloon, and are ready to make an unhurried landing, feeling in the “pink” of condition to enjoy a new day, at 8.30. If you intend to intercept the “Edelweiss Pullman” in Antwerp, indeed, you need not be up as early as this, as she is not due to leave Berehem Station till 10.9 a.m. If you are going into Brussels by the boat train, however, you must be in your place by 8.52 a.m, when the train leaves Antwerp Quay. Even this is a couple of hours later than the departure from the Hook of Holland of the “Rheingold Express”, of which we are to make the acquaintance, much later in the clay, at Basel; for from Basel to Zurich, and also from Basel to Lucerne, the severed halves of the two famous expresses keep each other company. There is one other advantage of the “Edelweiss” route -
Interior of one of the cars on the “Edelweiss Pullman”. The photograph gives an excellent idea of the spaciousness and beautiful decoration of these cars, which were built in England.
So it was that on an evening early in July I found myself on No. 7 platform at Liverpool Street terminus, boarding the “Antwerp Continental”. The Pullman Car Company are well represented on this train, as in addition to the ordinary first-
“armchair” Pullman car, the ordinary restaurant car catering is now done in a handsome three-
I must not dwell at length on the journey to Parkeston Quay, however, as this was but the introduction to our real subject matter. Suffice it to say that on my trip the “Hook Continental” went out ahead of us at 8.15 p.m, with one of the new 3-
We had a train of 315 tons only, with one of the familiar Great Eastern type 4-
Of the journey across the North Sea also little need be said. You may be mystified to notice that the bows of the boats -
After that you go down below, as it is now well after 10 o’clock, and turn in for a comfortable sleep of eight hours or so. The motion of the boat is so perfectly steady that, unless it is very rough, you will know nothing of some six hours of open sea, but will wake up in the long reaches of another wide river -
The stock of the boat train provided by the Belgian National Railway Company from Antwerp Quay into Brussels, consisting mostly of rather primitive six-
View of Lucerne. The handsome railway station is seen In the centre of the photograph, and in the distance tower the snow-
There is much to be seen, too. The most intensive service of express trains in Belgium is that which works between the cities of Brussels and Antwerp. Known as the “Trains Blocs”. because they are composed of special centre-
At twenty minutes to eleven the blue and white cars of the “Edelweiss Pullman” are seen approaching from Schaerbeek. They have already been 3½ hours on the journey, having left Amsterdam at 7.25 a.m. (Dutch time, which is 20 minutes in advance of the ordinary Western Europe time), and called at The Hague and Rotterdam before reaching Rosendaal, where the Netherlands Railway authorities of Holland hand the train over to the Belgians and the first frontier is crossed. The length of journey in Holland is 89 miles in all, and with 54 miles through the north of Belgium, including the intermediate stop at Berehem, the “Edelweiss Pullman” is brought into Brussels (Nord) at 10.41 a.m. Immediately in front of it from Antwerp, but running round Brussels into the Midi Station and from there non-
In all probability the “Edelweiss Pullman” has been brought from Rosendaal to Brussels by an ex-
The strange feature of these “Pacifics”, the earliest of which appeared as far back as 1910, is that a comparatively short boiler is used, with a sharply tapered barrel; and that the smokebox of the engine finished well clear of the cylinders and the bogie, which project like a great ram in front. Four high-
The whole appearance is one of extraordinary power, but the Belgian “Pacifics” appear at times to have some difficulty in living up to the reputation that they might well earn by their massive outline. Their work has been greatly improved, however, since they have been rebuilt and modified in various respects, from 1922 onward. It must not be forgotten also, that the fuel used is of poor quality as compared with that to which we are accustomed in this country, and that the gradients over which we are to pass between Brussels and Luxembourg are extremely severe, including many miles inclined at between 1 in 60 and 1 in 70.
In exchange for the small supplement asked by the International Sleeping Car Company for the use of their luxurious train, over and above the ordinary fare, the traveller gets a tremendous advantage in time over the ordinary express service. The 9.45 a.m. express from Brussels to Basel leaves 64 minutes ahead of us, but we pass it on the way and reach Basel 85 minutes sooner. Even the best ordinary express, leaving Brussels at 12.40 p.m, takes two hours longer on its journey to Basel than we do. The Pullman train is not heavy, the formation consisting of one “ fourgon” or luggage-
Changing engines at Strasbourg. The Alsace-
Out of Brussels our train has to make a wide circuit round the eastern suburbs of the city, passing on the way the important Quartier Leopold Station, which this is one of the few trains of the day to give the “go-
After Namur heavy climbing begins again, out of the Meuse Valley up to the high ground of the Belgian Ardennes, the worst ascent being for eight miles continuously at 1 in 62½. The run on which we are now engaged is the longest non-
In the heart of the Ardennes district we pass Jemelle -
Two hundred and eighty-
A typical modern Continental Pullman Car used on the “Edelweiss Pullman”.
In the opposite direction, on my return journey, an Alsace-
The Luxembourg frontier is crossed between Luxembourg and Thionville and, to save any disturbance of passengers, French customs and passport officials make their visits inside the train. The succession of frontier crossings on this journey raises other complications also. As we enter every fresh country you will see the Pullman car attendants pass rapidly through the train, collecting all the cards showing the refreshment tariff and substituting fresh ones. So, at Thionville, we change over from prices in Belgian francs to those in French francs. Had I been a little more wideawake I should have realised that my afternoon tea would cost more on French soil than on Belgian, and acted accordingly! On this particular trip of mine the problem of exchange was really acute, and at one time I had seven different “currencies” in my pocket, of the six European countries I visited, in addition to British, But that is another story.
The “Edelweiss Pullman” leaving Lucerne for Basel, Swiss Federal Railways. The overhead equipment is for alternating current at 13,000 volts. In the foreground is the brake-
The 20¼ miles from Luxembourg to Thionville are allowed 26 minutes which, because of certain slacks en route is a very tight time and may not be quite kept. After a halt of one minute at Thionville, where the customs and passport officials alight, we enter part of the iron and steel producing country that occupies the adjacent areas in the south of Luxembourg, the east of France and the west of Germany. Vast resources of iron ore in the neighbouring hills have established this great industry, and we pass row after row of blast-
It is 18¼ miles from Thionville to Metz, and a brief 20 minutes for this again proves to be an extremely tight schedule. But we have the 98½-
We shall not fail to notice, by the way, that since we left Luxembourg we have changed over to the opposite track. That is to say, instead of passing trains travelling in the other direction on our right, they are now on our left-
Next follows a tunnel of nearly a mile in length, ushering us into a deep valley through which the railway runs amid very fine
scenery, for the best part of 15 miles, passing through a number of short tunnels. We are here threading the northernmost spurs of the Vosges Mountains and are travelling due east. We emerge into open country again at Saverne, presently bearing round until we are heading full south; and some 25 miles later the outskirts of Strasbourg bear into view. We are due to spend five minutes at this historic city, from 4.54 to 4.59 p.m., and here engines are changed. We may have the services of another “Pacific”, or possibly of a 4-
For the next 67½ miles to Mulhouse the allowance is only 71 minutes, but the almost perfectly fiat grading of the track, as well as its splendidly straight lay-
The last short stage to the French frontier lies ahead. For the final 20½ miles to Basel, with a tortuous finish from St Louis into the great Hauptbahnhof, or Central Station, we are allowed 27 minutes; and at 6,38 p.m. we should be on Swiss territory.
The “Edelweiss Express” has now left 509 miles of journey behind her, over which 11 hours, 33 minutes have been spent; and a brief wait is now in prospect -
The “Rheingold Express” is a bigger train than the “Edelweiss Express”, as it includes not only the through portions from the Hook of Holland to Zurich and Lucerne, but also a couple of through cars from Amsterdam to Lucerne, which left the Dutch city eight minutes after our express this morning, and were attached to the main “Rheingold Express” at Utrecht. A considerable amount of sorting of both the famous trains now takes place, with the result that a train of nine cars is made up for Lucerne -
We have been over both the Swiss routes previously, and have made the acquaintance of the Swiss electric locomotives, as well as of their remarkable tractive powers. From Basel to Lucerne we travelled with the “St Gotthard Pullman” which, by the way, is due in Lucerne just an hour after our arrival.
On the way to Lucerne we thread the 5 miles of the Hauenstein Tunnel under the Jura Mountains, and reach Olten, 24½ miles, in 33 minutes; while the final 35¼ miles to the famous lakeside resort are scheduled to be covered in 49 minutes. This portion of the “Edelweiss. Pullman” finishes its journey of 569 miles, and its transit of four countries and a duchy, 13 hours, 18 minutes after starting from Amsterdam. The Zurich portion has a nonstop run over the route that we traversed with the “Engadine Express”, reaching the great industrial centre of Switzerland seven minutes later, at 8.30 p.m; 80 minutes being allowed for the distance of 55 miles.
Interior of a typical modern Continental Saloon Pullman Car.
[From The Meccano Magazine, October 1929]