About The Blue Train
The Blue Train has an aura of mystique about it. Kings and presidents have travelled on this magnificent moving five-star hotel. Its very name has become synonymous with the ultimate in luxury and personal service.
In ensuring that your experience is as reliable and sound as it is luxurious, safety and technical excellence are of paramount importance on The Blue Train.
All the suites, and every public area, are fitted with constantly monitored smoke detection systems. Two highly qualified technicians are always on board, and the trains are thoroughly serviced at the Pretoria depot after every return trip.
The Blue Trains suspension, braking, lighting and under-floor heating systems have been designed and customised with our guests' comfort as the primary consideration, allowing them to savour the experience of a smooth, pleasurable ride.
Every modern convenience, including a telephone service and a choice of digital entertainment channels, serves to make the journey all the more memorable.
Download The Blue Train Brochure (Note: pdf document of 6.7MB) or a slide-show about The Blue Train (Microsoft Power Point file of 3.4MB) for more information.
Our luxurious journeys are made possible by two Blue Train sets. The first train accommodates 74 guests in 37 suites. The second accommodates 58 guests in 29 suites and features a conference or observation car at the back of the train.
The trains travel at a speed of 90 kilometres per hour (58,2 mph). Both are 336 metres (433 yards) long and consist of 17 & 16 carriages respectively, 10 & 8 of which are for the use of the guests. The weight of each train is approximately 825 metric tons, excluding the locomotives.
They each carry 31 000 litres (6820 gallons) of water. Two diesel-powered generators - one of which is always on standby - are used to supply The Blue Trains demanding power requirements.
The kitchen car is a masterpiece of stainless-steel design. The fully air-conditioned car features walk-in cool rooms and freezers, ensuring that wines and hors d’oeuvre remain at optimum temperatures.
All the public cars are fitted with gas-filled air-conditioning systems. A standard internal temperature of between 20 to 21°C (70 to 72°F) is maintained throughout the journey.
For the comfort of guests, each suite has individual temperature controls which range from 18 to 24°C (65 to 77°F). These systems are water-cooled and each suite has its own fresh air intake.
During cold periods, all systems are provided with heating cycles from the air-conditioning units, as well as under-floor heating. Heating systems have been fitted under the marble tiles of most of the bathrooms.
Each suite has its own bathroom with either a shower or bath. There are two luxury coaches which both have three suites with bathrooms fitted with tubs. The other nine De Luxe coaches have four suites per coach. One of the four suites has a bathroom with a bath, while the other three have showers.
The beds have been custom-designed for The Blue Train. A butler pulls them out, already made, from a space in the suite wall, converting the lounge into a comfortable bedroom. White cotton sheets and down duvets are the standard linen throughout the train. Ten of the suites feature double beds on the first train, while there are nine on the second.
The luxury suites have hi-fi, audio CD and VHS video systems.
Guests on The Blue Train receive special branded gifts at the end of the journey.
The dining car provides seating for 42 people. There are two sittings for lunch and dinner. Lunch is smart-casual, dinner is jacket and tie for the men and elegant wear for the ladies, while breakfast is casual.
Each of The Blue Trains has two lounges: the main lounge car in which high tea is served each afternoon, and the club car where guests can relax over a postprandial cognac. The club car is the only public area available for smoking.
There is a first-aid worker on board and contingency medical plans have been put into place should an emergency arise. There are also doctors on standby en route.
Fax facilities are available in the train manager's office. There are also facilities for mailing letters, as well as stamps and The Blue Train postcards.
A camera mounted on the front of both trains gives guests a driver's-eye-view of the scenery ahead. The unfolding journey is shown on a TV screen in the club car and on one of the TV channels so guests can view it in their suites.
Each suite is also equipped with a cellular communication telephone which can be used for phone calls and to reach train staff.
The Blue Train has a central intercom system which is used for making relevant announcements.
Staff at your service
On each journey, a team of highly qualified and specially trained hospitality staff run The Blue Train. These include, train manager, rooms division supervisor, restaurant supervisor, executive chef, sous chef, butlers, waiters/barmen as well as kitchen staff.
The History of the Blue Train
The Blue Train, for decades one of the world's most renowned passenger trains, 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 travelled 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 baggage van.
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 journeys.
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 to its destinations Hoedspruit on the western edge of the Kruger National Park, and Port Elizabeth at the eastern end of South Africa's Garden Route.