The Royal Train

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Continuing a tradition which dates back to 1842, the Royal Train remains one of the preferred modes of transport for the Royal Family much loved by Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

The present Royal Train consists of a fleet of nine coaches, seven of which are BR Mark 3s. Two were originally HST prototype coaches. Not all carriages are used at any given time as different ones have specific purposes so the actual consist will depend on the itinerary of the trip.

Since 1977, when the demands of the Silver Jubilee led to the creation of a single Royal Train, the carriages and locomotives of the Royal Train have been painted Royal Claret. From the 1980s, two diesel locomotives are designated for use by the train. The first of these being a pair of Class 47s which were specially re-numbered and re-named as 47798, ‘Prince William’ and 47799, ‘Prince Harry’. In 2004, they were replaced by two Class 67s, 67005 ‘Queen’s Messenger’ and 67006, ‘Royal Sovereign’. A third locomotive, ‘Royal Diamond’, is kept in reserve.

Needs and preferences

The facilities on board reflect the needs and preferences of the Royal Family. These include the Queen’s Saloon, which incorporates a lounge plus bedroom and bathroom for both the Queen and her dresser.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Saloon consists of a combined lounge and dining room, a kitchen, a bedroom and shower for the Duke plus a bedroom and bathroom for the Duke’s valet. There is a sleeping car and a saloon for the use of the Prince of Wales and other carriages in the fleet provide staff sleeping and dining facilities and a generator car.

The Royal Train enables members of the Royal Family to travel overnight and is helpful when the weather is too bad to fly. Journeys are always organised so as not to interfere with scheduled services. Since the Royal Train was refurbished and upgraded in 1977 it enjoys higher running speeds. These days the Royal Family also uses scheduled train services for official journeys if appropriate.

When not in use, the carriages for the Royal Train are stabled at Wolverton in the historic railway works. The locomotives are stabled at Toton MPD. The on-train staff are mostly employed full time elsewhere in the railway industry and return to their normal duties at the end of each trip apart from two part time staff who look after the day to day housekeeping on board tending to vacuuming and dusting.

Royal Trains operate in Canada, South Africa and Australia. The popularity of royal trains is not restricted to Britain’s monarchy. Norway and the Netherlands also have them. The Royal Train continues to make an impressive sight when glimpsed travelling regally along the main line.

Written by Colin Garrett.