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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

WPC Names: Pullman

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via Photo Challenge: Names

NRM York: Pullman 5669

Pullman is a brand name that once exercised considerable power. In the application used in the photo it was used by Britain’s nationalised railway to indicate the highest standard of luxury. Trains carrying this brand had better quality seating, more space per passenger and at seat service for refreshments and full meals, with high quality china and silverware. The now privatised railway companies tend not to emulate this type of service, and stress their own brand names. There are also many companies across the world that now operate trains that are equivalent to cruise ships, not really so much about transportation as providing a luxury experience for a very limited high end market. In Britain, Pullman trains ran on regular schedules and charged a premium fare but were still affordable. For instance, even a student I was able to take the Bristol Pullman from London to go visit friends we had met on holiday. I can still remember the huge toasted tea cakes served warm by friendly waiters.

Pullman started in the United States in the early days or railways which initially were known for their spartan accommodations, even for very long distance trips.  Initially Pullman cars were added to existing trains – and this method was also continued by British Railways – although they were not in the Sleeping Car business there. Indeed in Europe that became the speciality of CIWL –  who operated trains like the Orient Express.

In Britain it was also possible to find the Pullman car by its livery – dark chocolate and cream. This changed with the introduction of the Blue Pullmans, which marked a distinct change in style and design. Traditionally blue was not favoured for most railway applications as it was a colour known to fade readily, but improved paint technology meant that the colour could be used economically, and as an indication of modernity and difference from past practice. There were also blue locomotives and passenger trains for electrification schemes, and blue was then adopted for all BR trains when the brands BritishRail and InterCity were adopted as part of the modernisation scheme.

After these trains were withdrawn in the early 1970s, BR stopped using Pullman as a brand altogether.

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Written by Stephen Rees

January 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Posted in photography, Transportation

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