The Blue Train (Train Bleu)

From the beginning of the century the CIWL had carried the wealthy and famous from Britain to the French Riviera for the Winter season.

It originally started with the Calais-Nice-Rome Express and later the Calais-Mèditerranèe Express, which had a duplicate service operating from Paris in the winter.

The sleeping cars of the era had bodies made from varnished teak, so when these trains received the first all-steel, blue painted S class sleepers in 1922 they made an immediate impression. This also sparked a large amount of publicity for CIWL, and the train was soon dubbed 'The Blue Train' (Le Train Bleu), however that title wasn't officially accepted until 1949.

In 1929 the S class stock were replaced by the most deluxe sleepers ever built for the CIWL - the LX class.

Each LX class vehicle started life with only 10 single-berth compartments, but the economic depression caused them to be rebuilt as LX16 (six two-berth and four single-berth compartments) and LX20 (10 two-berth compartments).

After its hiatus during World War 2 the Blue Train service resumed in the winter of 1946/47 with the LX Wagon-Lits and two dining cars.

During the early 1950's, three Pullmans were converted to Saloon bar cars and became a popular meeting point for the passengers of the Blue Train. These were eventually withdrawn from service in 1975

The Blue Train continued to live up to its name until 1958 when P class, stainless steel, Wagon-Lits were added; and later U, MU and T2 classes, breaking up the uniformity of the colour which made the train famous. Second class Wagon-Lits were added in 1956 and all the LX's were withdrawn in 1969.

During its prime the Blue Train would have consisted of anything up to 11 LX Wagon-Lits cars, a dining car, saloon car and a fourgon.

In total, 90 LX's were built. The first batch of 30 were constructed in the UK by Metro and the remaining 60 in France by EIC. The Dècor was by Prou, Maples, Morrison and Nelson.