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The Golden Arrow: A Post-WWI Train from England to France

The Golden Arrow: A Post-WWI Train from England to France
photo: Ausdew / Flickr/Golden Arrow
16 / 11 / 2023

The Golden Arrow was an extraordinary train service that consisted of two segments. One segment transported passengers from London to Dover, while the other carried them from Calais to Paris.

Following the success of the Orient Express, the train and railway company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits sought to expand its high-quality lines throughout Europe. The Golden Arrow emerged as the most successful of these endeavors. Launched in 1926, this fast passenger service connected Victoria Station in London with the coastal town of Dover.

Crafted as a luxury liner, the Golden Arrow was a first-class Pullman service. In America, "Pullman" referred to the railroad sleeping cars built and operated by the Pullman Company. The train comprised 10 British Pullman cars and was hauled by Lord Nelson class locomotives. The London-Dover journey spanned 98 minutes, after which passengers transferred to a ferry for the channel crossing to France. Initially catering exclusively to first-class travelers, the Golden Arrow eventually broadened its passenger base. By 1931, third-class carriages were introduced, responding to advancements in other modes of transport.

Ausdew / Flickr

In its prime, the Golden Arrow was a hefty, all-Pullman train, powered by the finest express trains. This prestigious service departed from London, linked with a ferry across the Channel, and transported people to Paris or the French Riviera. However, the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 led to a suspension of services, which only resumed in April 1946.

The transition to electric traction in 1961 marked a modernization phase for the train. Despite these efforts, the decline in rail travel demand persisted. Consequently, the Golden Arrow made its final journey on September 30, 1972, marking the end of an era in rail travel.