Travel

Charming vintage images capture the golden age of train travel


Rail travel has long captured the imagination of people, from the first transcontinental journeys in North America and Australia to groundbreaking British trains and incredible advancements by the Japanese. Join us as we travel back in time to look at how rail travel became the transport stalwart it is today, marvel at the glamor of railroad cars of the past and celebrate notable moments in railway history.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


One of the biggest obstacles railroads faced in the early days was traversing the often challenging landscapes. One such place was Canyon Diablo in Arizona – this is the earliest inception of a railroad bridge across the canyon photographed at some point in the 1870s. The current steel bridge was finished in 1903, but the foundations of the original trestle bridge can still be seen today.




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Before the turn of the 20th century, rail travel was expensive, especially in America, but Chicago-based Pullman Company, led by George Pullman found a way to make it even more luxurious. Founded in 1867, the company produced a range of ornate dining, sleeping and parlor cars and even private cars for the super wealthy. These cars would be attached to commercial passenger trains and were essentially mini mansions on wheels.




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Built between 1881 and 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s first line connected eastern Canada with British Columbia. The first train to travel the full route departed Montreal’s Dalhousie Station at 8pm on 28 June 1886 and reached the final terminus on the western seaboard, Port Moody, at noon on 4 July. Here, that first train is photographed in Fernie, some 600 miles (900km) east from Port Moody.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


While train travel was still considered a luxury, especially for the wealthier passengers, rather than just a mode of transport, comfort was a priority. Photographed in 1905, this woman is enjoying reading a book before bed in her spacious bunk on a sleeping car.




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For many years trains were and on some occasions still are the top choice for travel across the UK for the British royals. Here, King George V and the royal party are captured leaving Glasgow Station during a royal tour of Scotland in 1914.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous trains. Built between 1879 and 1881, the line is about 55 miles (89km) long and uses six zig-zags and five loops to gain an altitude of just under 7,000 feet (2,134m). One such loop is loop No.4 or Agony Point loop, photographed here in around 1910.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


This image shows that traveling in second class was still very comfortable in some state-operated trains like Sweden. The SJ on the embroidered head rest covers stands for Statens Järnvägar – Swedish for Swedish State Railways.




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Trains also started providing new forms of entertainment on board to help passengers pass the time in comfort. Gone were the days of looking through the window for hours on end as radio was introduced to entertain travelers aboard the Northwest Railroad running out of Milwaukee. Radios were installed on every car and passengers could pass the time listening to music or stories broadcasted over the radio waves.




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The UK took a similar approach in 1935 when King George V’s Silver Jubilee film was shown on board the train departing London King’s Cross to Peterborough.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Although the 1930s was a turbulent decade largely defined by the stock market crash and the Great Depression in the US, as well as the start of the Second World War, the Roaring Twenties had left its mark on train travel. Still a rather luxurious experience, especially for the wealthy, here two ladies in silk nightwear are captured inside a sleeping compartment on a Union Pacific Railroad train in the 1930s.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


When tourism skyrocketed in the second half of the 19th century and areas around Vienna became popular with travelers from all across Europe, the mountainous Schneeberg region emerged as a favorite summer resort for the wealthy. Here are a group of hikers disembark the Schneeberg Railway at Baumgartnerhaus Station in 1935.




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Introduced in November 1939, Rocky Mountain Rocket was one of the six streamlined trains traveling between Chicago and Denver. As competition along that route was stiff, the Rocket offered its passengers total comfort during the 13-hour trip. The train had a 32-patron diner and 14-patron cocktail lounge cars, two sleeping cars and a sleeper-observation car as well as coaches with wide and cushioned reclining seats.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad, Sunset Limited was a route connecting New Orleans with Los Angeles. The oldest named train in the US, Sunset Limited started operations in 1894 and, having opened 20 years before the Panama Canal, offered a quicker connection between the East and West Coasts. Here, travelers are seen passing the time in one of the two lounge cars in the 1950s.




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Although construction on the Channel Tunnel, known as Eurotunnel, didn’t begin until 1988, plans to build such a tunnel emerged as early as 1802. Here, British Transport Minister Barbara Castle is photographed with the French SNCF (France’s national state-owned railway company) CEO André Segalat on 29 October 1966. They’re standing onboard a train-car, showcasing how the transport through the tunnel would work, some 30 years before it actually happened.




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A huge advancement in modern day rail travel, Japan’s new high-speed Shinkansen trains shortened the travel time between Tokyo and Osaka by three hours and 10 minutes. Launched in 1964, just in time for the first Tokyo Olympics, the new bullet trains quickly grew in both popularity and size. Here, a bullet train travels on the first Shinkansen Tokaido Line with Mount Fuji in the background in 1968.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 23 February 1970 when Australia’s two coasts were finally linked by a direct rail service. More than 2,700 miles (4,345km) long, the journey between Perth in Western Australia and Sydney in New South Wales took around 75 hours to complete. Here, the new Indian Pacific (originally named The Transcontinental) is making its first journey in 1970.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Throughout the ages trains have played a significant part in people’s lives. While private car ownership has steadily risen since the 1980s, trains are still often a significant part of special occasions like this one. Here, captured in 1993, a group of women are traveling from London Waterloo to Royal Ascot in Berkshire for Ladies Day during the Royal Ascot racing week.




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The dream of a tunnel and a train connecting mainland Europe and the UK finally came true in 1994 when both the Eurotunnel and Eurostar were launched. Here, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are joined by Prime Minister John Major (sitting behind the Queen) aboard a Eurostar train on the inauguration of the tunnel on 6 May 1994.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


32/32 SLIDES


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