Les Trains de Nuit: Deux Siecles de Voyages (La Vie du Rail)

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The illustrated story of night train services in France, looking at how the trains and the rolling stock have changed over a period spanning two centuries.

In the early days, overnight accommodation was comprised of spartan benches inherited from the tradition of stagecoaches. Beds and berths later became available, but only in First Class coaches. Soon, on payment of a high supplement, the International Wagons-Lits Company offered travel in US-inspired train-hotels inspired. The Belle Epoque and The Orient Express became synonymous with luxury travel.

By the 1930s, more economical berths had begun to be provided to suit a lower budget. Every summer during the Glorious Thirties, night trains with crowded Third Class compartments were a regular sight at destinations all over France. After the Second World War, the growing popularity and availability of the motor car, and the later advent of the daytime TGV, led to the cancellation of most night trains.

As well as looking at the history of night train services, Les Trains de Nuit emphasises the human dimension, including `the rules of the conductor’ – an unpublished account dating from 1908, and the personal reminiscences of, Bernard Vieu, who spent 37 years of his career at SNCF, controlling night trains. French text. Hardback. 324 pages.

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