Ingenieur Vol. 74 Ingenieur Vol 72, April-June 2018 - Page 37

Orient Express The story of the Orient Express begins in the 1860s, when the concept of globetrotting tourism  was still new. For years, the ultra-rich had been the only people who could afford to travel through Europe. And though railroads were introduced in the first half of the 19 th century, they were often dirty and uncomfortable and jostled along fragmented routes that often ground to a halt at the continent’s many international borders. As rail travel expanded,  luxury hotels  began to pop up to cater to travellers’ needs. But it took an entrepreneur named Georges Nagelmackers to combine trains and hotels in Europe. Nagelmackers was a member of a prominent Belgian banking family and had investments in European railroads. While European travellers chugged along in sooty, jostling trains, Americans were beginning to travel in Pullman cars. These train cars, invented by George Pullman, were specially  designed  for long-distance travel. The hotel-like cars were clean and staffed by friendly workers who saw to the passengers’ comfort. Above all, they contained something European trains did not: beds.Nagelmackers became fascinated by this comfortable mode of travel and even approached Pullman with a proposal to become his partner and spread his cars through Europe. When Pullman rejected him, Nagelmackers returned to Europe with a plan: copy Pullman and make his own even more luxurious train.Nagelmackers wasn’t content with the idea of mere sleeper cars. He wanted to create something entirely new: a luxury travel experience that carried passengers from Paris to Istanbul (then Constantinople)  without stopping at borders. To do so, he recruited a powerful ally: King Leopold II of Belgium. The king was a notorious railroad enthusiast with family ties to some of Europe’s most powerful monarchs, and he helped Nagelmackers  get permission  to run his trains across international borders without interference. In 1883, the opulent train the press dubbed the “Orient Express” made its maiden voyage. (It only went part of the eventual route due to infrastructure challenges.) It was unlike any other train Europe had ever seen. Instead of soot and bad service, it had gleaming wood surfaces, plush seats, and beds with silk sheets that rivaled those found in hotels. Inside was a restaurant that served fancy dishes like oysters and caviar, and musicians serenaded the passengers as they sped over borders.By 1889, the train’s Ottoman Empire infrastructure was completed and it went all the way to Constantinople. And though it never went all the way to the Orient—and Nagelmackers’s company added and changed multiple routes over the years—its name suggested glamour and intrigue.Nagelmackers’s train made its last full journey in 1977, and though copycat train lines still exist in Europe, they’ve never matched the opulence and mystery of the original. The Orient Express may be dead, but its reputation is still very much alive. Just the mention of its name brings to mind luxury, speed and intrigue—and that’s the way Nagelmackers would have wanted it. London’s Underground The first Underground trains ran on steam. Recent studies have found that London’s air quality below ground is 70 times worse than it is above and that, due to exhaust and poor ventilation, a 40-minute ride on the system is equivalent to smoking two cigarettes. This may shock modern sensibilities, but the earliest riders would hardly have been surprised. While steam locomotives, fed by coal, had been traversing the British countryside for decades, few were prepared for what awaited them in the smoky, sooty confines of the enclosed Underground system. For nearly 30 years, the entire Undergro VBv07FVvW&VBFRf'7BVV7G&6vW&VBƖW0VVB'WBfWr7FVvW&VBG&0&VVB&VwV"W6RVFcvWfW"F6V&FRFRSFfW'6'bFP77FV6W&W2b7FVvW&VBG&2G&fVV@F&VvWB'G2bFR77FVV"7G&WF6bFRG&6BƖR0&RWV6fRFG&fVƖrFR&V@W&W72FR6'FW7BF7F6R&WGvVVGv7F2FRVFW&w&VB2FR66FǐƖR6V7FrFRV6W7FW"7V&R7FvF6fVBv&FVW7Bc֖W2vvFFPG&( 26VW7BF6WB67Fr&VvǒU2CrF0G&v&2WBF&RFU2CCW"֖R&PFBvVB67BF&F6WBFRfV@3