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Monarchy Monday: All aboard the Royal Train

Getting around in style is not something the Royal Family gloats about (especially Prince Harry, who on more than one occasion sat in the economy section of his flights). One of their best-used modes of transportation is the Royal Train.

LNWR Royal Dining Saloon No.76 built at Wolverton in 1900

LNWR Royal Dining Saloon No.76 built at Wolverton in 1900

The train was commissioned in order to reduce any inconvenience or disruption to the public while providing an efficient way of getting the members of the Royal Family and their staff around to fulfill their busy schedules. The trains offer accommodation, dining, staff, communication and office facilities.

On 13 June 1842, Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to by train on the Great Western Railways, between London and Windsor. After her funeral in 1901, the Royal Train brought her coffin back to Windsor Castle to be buried in her resting place.

Regions across the United Kingdom each maintained the individual components of the railway companies’ Royal Train carriages when British Railways formed in 1948. It was not until 1977 that a single Royal Train was created for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee to keep up with all her appearances.

In recent years, Royal Family members have used regularly scheduled train services more often to help reduce costs.

As of today, the train is made up of nine carriages, seven of those being the British Rail Mark 3 design, and two of those were from the prototype high-speed train. All nine carriages may not be used at one time, only those whose particular uses are need will be utilised. To pull the Royal Train, there are two locomotives are available, painted in the claret livery of the royal household. When not being used by the Royal Train they are used for charters and the occasional passenger train, however, the carriages are only used by other Heads of States. Unfortunately, they can’t be rented out for private use.

Caroline 975025 and 37402 Kensington Olympia

Caroline 975025 and 37402 Kensington Olympia

Some of the past locomotives nominated for pulling the Royal Train include 47798 Prince William (formally 37 37834 Fire Fly) and the 47799 Prince Henry (formally 47835 Windsor Castle) between 1990 to 2004. Both locomotives have been retired, but you can visit them at the National Railway Museum, York and the latter at the Eden Valley Railway, Warcop.

Steam locomotives are not the mode of transportation used regularly. On 11 June 2002 as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee the newly restored 6233 Duchess of Sutherland became the first steam engine to pull the Royal Train in 35 years. It also commemorated the 160th anniversary of the first Royal Train in 1842 making the trip in North Wales, from Holyhead to Llandudno Junction.

As for the carriages, an addition was made to the arrangement that had been set in 1977 from the Silver Jubilee. The honeymoon Royal Train of the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales saw the introduction of the inspection saloon 975025 Caroline. It was also used by Pope John Paul II while he visited the U.K.

If you do want a chance to ride on the train, you could become a driver. The train drivers are hired on very specific skills, including being able to make a station stop within a six-inch gap at the designated position.

Photo Credit: Railway Dave & Jim Freeb via Flickr, Train Photos via Flickr, Hugh Llewelyn via Flickr




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