The Origin of Luxury Trains – Here is How it All Started

It is only when a concept is a success that we try to trace its roots. And to call Palace on Wheels plainly a success story would be a whimpering understatement. Palace on Wheels is the 4th best luxury train in the world – a luxury train nonetheless. We also know that it was first introduced in 1982 by IRCTC. But how did it all started? Who pioneered the concept of luxury trains? So we dug deep to trace luxury trains to their very origin. And as always, facts are really stranger than fiction.

Palace on Wheels
Palace on wheels Train -All set to embark on a royal journey of Rajasthan
 George Mortimer Pullman, the inventor of the Pullman Sleeping Car. A scientist, an industrialist and a visionary par excellence! Rolling back to the 1850s when rail cars had plainly fitted seats that were uncomfortable. Pullman introduced the Pioneer in 1864 and was the first railway carriage with attached dining and sleeping cars. Thus began the age of luxury trains. Though they cost nothing less than five times the fare of a normal rail car, Pullman marketed his sleeping car as “luxury for the middle class”. He made a real name for himself and the train when he arranged for the body of Abraham Lincoln to be carried in his sleeper car. Pullman introduced “President” or the “Hotel Car” in 1867 for the high and mighty of American aristocracy. The best chefs in America were hired. The President enjoyed widespread patronage and became the preferred mode of travel for loaded industrialists, bureaucrats and ministers.

In 1968, Pullman launched “Delmonico”, popularly known as the “Palace Car”. Delmonico was the first travel car devoted to fine dining. The food menu was inspired from New York’s exclusive Delmonico restaurant and prior reservation became a must to ensure a seat. Needless to say, both the trains were known for their delicious food, impeccable service and quality interiors. The staffing was done by hiring recently freed house slaves who were porters, chambermaids, entertainers, porters and valets. In fact, Pullman employed the maximum African Americans in post-civil war America. 

Palace on wheels tour
The Palace on Wheels - safari in Sand Dunes of the Desert
The wave caught on as one Georges Nagelmackers, from his trip to America, returned inspired from the Pullman’s luxury train enterprise and launched a fleet of 30 similar trains in Europe. In 1883, the Orient Express set on its maiden voyage Paris Gare de l’Est across Europe. In 1887, Pullman designed the “vestibule trains” and put them in operation on the Pennsylvania truck lines.
Let’s get you those tickets on the Palace on Wheels now, shall we?!?