Saturday, February 05, 2011

To Paris

I wish. I must have stayed up too late one night at christmas time and saw one of those awful black and white English movies. The well known female actor, so well known I have forgotten her name, was in a rush to catch the boat train to Paris.

I would like to catch a boat train to Paris. We had to make do with the Eurostar.

What is this boat train thingie anyway? I think I know what it is. Let us research.

Well, I am getting disappointed. So far as I can tell, it is only a train that meets a ferry or ship and passengers transfer from the train to the boat.

Wait, The Independent has something interesting. Ok, this is what I was hoping. The train left from Victoria Station, drove onto a ferry at Dover and off again at Dunkirk and raced its way to Paris.

How terribly civilised the overnight trip of nine hours must have been. A fine meal in a dining car and then the gentle rocking to sleep by the North Sea in your warm and cozy compartment. Not so the day time trip though. The engine was disconnected and carriages shunted onto the boat. I don't think being on a shunted carriage would be so restful.

Perhaps the Eurostar is not a bad mode of transport.

Here is a train ready to leave Victoria Station and it is heading south, so it could well be a proper boat train.


  1. I have some great childhood memories of the 'boat train'. Back then you took an overnight ferry from Lyttleton (the port near Christchurch) to Wellington. And the boat train took you the short journey from Chch to Lyttleton. We nearly missed the boat train once because the taxi had arrived late to pick us all up for the trip to the station!

  2. I love the romance of the railways - the stations in the UK really hark back to another age. Having said that I think I prefer the Eurostar to the boat-train...

  3. I once took the train ferry from Puttgarden to Rødby, Denmark. As soon as the train was aboard all had to get off the train and go up to the restaurant and duty-free shops. It was a different way of travel. It's only a trip of 18 km, but took about 1.5 hours, enough to dine and get back on the train before it took off for Copenhagen.

    I must admit I was much younger then, must have been the mid 70's.

  4. Anonymous11:54 am

    Last August I did the ICE train trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg [and further]. Our train was a 3-car diesel ICE set run by Deutsches Bahn - and it moved rather swiftly across the Danish countryside until we got to the neck of water between Denmark and Germany [Puttgarden/Rødby].
    At that point, we gingerly drove [train and all] into the belly of the ferry, and - as Peter [above] says - the passengers went above for fresh air and drinks, and as we neared Germany we got back into our ICE. It drove off the ferry, and took us swiftly to Hamburg. Very civilised.
    Check YouTube for videos.

  5. *sigh* How lovely that would have been, the boat train night crossing :)
    So long as no one forgot to close any ferry doors....!

  6. Interesting KN. I remember Lyttleton, where the time ball is or was. I did not know a ferry went from there to Wellington. Running down the gangplank as it was about to be hoisted were you?

    Scott, even modern shows with British trains make them look quite classy. Actually, our trip from London to the north east was very comfortable.

    So Peter, that was a proper boat train too then, where the train went onto the boat.

    Fantastic Anon. I'm pleased they still exist.

    And Jayne, as you probably recall, someone did forget to close the doors once.