The most glamorous trains run by railway companies were the high-speed expresses, linking the major towns, cities and holiday destinations. They included overnight sleepers, fast mail trains, excursion specials and boat trains connecting with ocean liners.
These premier trains were the fastest and most luxurious of their day. They generated much publicity, especially in the 1930s when they regularly broke speed records. The names of the most famous expresses still resonate with the public today: the `Flying Scotsman', the `Royal Scot', the `Cornish Riviera Limited' and the `Atlantic Coast Express'. These and luxurious Pullman services featured the newest and fastest locomotives and the most up-to-date and comfortable rolling stock. The latest technology helped increase express train speeds and reduce travel times, making a journey on an express an experience not to be missed for the well-heeled traveller.
Most of the famous expresses vanished in the 1970s and only a few survive today. Although faster diesel and electric trains now make journeys considerably faster, the overall level of comfort for passengers rarely matches that of their glamorous predecessors.
This book is part of the Britain's Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain's past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with express trains in all their variety.
Tim Bryan spent twenty-one years working as curator at the GWR and STEAM museums in Swindon and is now Head of Collections at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon. He is the author of more than fifteen books, and many articles on railway and heritage topics.