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Cape Town - Pretoria
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The Blue Train
The World's Leading Luxury Train
History and Pedigree
King George VI accompanied by General Smuts, alights from the Blue Train at Pretoria in 1947.
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|The Blue Train, for decades
one of the world's most renowned passenger train,
owes its origins to the Union Limited and the
Union Express, which - from 1923 - linked
Johannesburg with the mailships departing from
Cape Town for England.
Ordinary coaches were
used until 1927, when articulated saloons were
imported. The two Union trains traveled the
distance in 30 hours and introduced a new
standard of luxury.
|In July 1937 it was announced that twelve
air-conditioned, all-steel sleeping coaches had
been ordered from the Birmingham firm of
Metro-Cammell at a cost of some R19 000
each. A later order called for all-steel lounge
coaches and dining cars, kitchen-cars and a
The coaches were delivered at the
start of the Second World War, but the service
was suspended in 1942 and - was only resumed in
February 1946, from which year it formally bore
the name "Blue Train".
During this period it was used for a few State
The original Blue Train, was
last hauled by steam power on the De Aar -
Kimberley section in 1972, when the new South
African-built Blue Train was taken into service.
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The Blue Train, as it is
today, on one of its four scenic journeys.
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|In 1997 a new Blue Train was
introduced and its traditional route between Cape
Town and Pretoria was extended northwards to the
Victoria Falls. In the following year, a second
identical train came into service, allowing the Blue
Train to add two new destinations to its
schedule: Hoedspruit on the western edge of the
Kruger National Park and Port Elizabeth at the
eastern end of South Africa's Garden Route.