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La Malle des Indes Calais - Brindisi, tenwheeler engine, on the PLM (old postcard)

Mont Cenis railway system Fell (contemporary press)

From 1847 a van for the Indian Mail ran Boulogne - Paris, announced as a special, 1849 from Calais. Another mail van reached Marseille in 1855. The first two vans with guard specially for the Indian Mail were built in 1856. In 1863 five other ones (obviously 6-wheelers) followed. From 1857 special mail trains Malle des Indes appeared in France, until 1864 however between Paris Nord and PLM the mail was carried by horse cars. Between 1869 and 71 some mail was detached to Saint-Michel, where the system Fell special to Susa of the short-lived Mont Cenis system Fell railway waited. From 1872 La Malle des Indes ran to Brindisi through the Frejus tunnel. In 1876 a Pullman sleeper Bologna – Brindisi was added. A CIWL sleeping-car Paris – Modane ran from 1878 in an ordinary train. A letter by Georges Nagelmackers of December 1878 declared the intention of adding a once-weekly sleeper Calais – Modane to La Malle des Indes and in June 1879 it was introduced. A telegram by director Massa of the Societa delle Ferrovie dell’ Alta Italia to director Noblemaire of PLM envisaged a sleeper Calais – Bologna by CIWL, connecting there with the Pullman sleeper to Brindisi, and Noblemaire agreed in April 1879. A timetable (in the collection of historian Roger Commault) showed it for 1879 and it was described being a 6-wheeler. At Bologna the passenger had to change to the Pullman sleeper on account of George Mortimer Pullman’s treaty with the Alta Italia. Another document from 1879 showed between Calais and Paris the CIWL sleeper, 3 - 4 mail vans, 3 - 5 vans and 5 - 10 1st class cars to Paris. Only from 1881 La Malle des Indes was no longer combined with other trains and from 1884 it avoided Paris.

Malle des Indes
Formation around 1884:
1fourgon (van)Nord?Calais -
3alleges postales (mail vans)PTTCalais - Brindidi
1WL (sleeper, 6-wheeler)CIWLCalais - Bologna
1Fourgon (van)Nord?Calais -

In Villeneuve-Saint Georges 2 alleges postales from Paris, one allege postale or a van for Marseille, in Italy an Italian post office car and the Pullman sleeper Bologna - Brindisi were added to the Valigie delle Indie. From 1886, taken over by CIWL, the ex-Pullman sleeper ran Calais - Brindisi, in 1890 replaced by the Peninsular-Express.

London - Dover - London via SER, 1889:
1FF (van/fumoir)CIWL
2-3WS (salon)CIWL
1F (van)SER
Colors: CIWL green.
Traction: 4-4-0 type.

A similar Club train ran on the competing LC&DR. For both ones the steamer "Calais-Douvres" and then a smaller one provided the connection with the French section of the Club Train. In October 1893 the Club Trains, running nearly empty, were stopped.

Club Train
Calais Maritime - Paris Nord, 1889:
1FF (van/kitchen)CIWL
1WR (diner without kitchen)CIWL
3WS (salon)CIWL
1FF (van/fumoir)CIWL

From 1890 to 1892 every Friday 2 WL (CIWL) Calais - Brindisi for the Peninsular-Express were attached in the rear. From 1891 also a modest 1st class car "a coupe toilette" of the Nord was added. Northbound the Brindisi sleeper ran in combination with La Malle des Indes.

Colors of Club Train in France and Peninsular-Express: varnished teak.

Club Train London - Dover, South Eastern Railway, Tonbridge c.1890 (coll. R. Commault, J.H. Price)

Sleeping-car 915 of the Peninsular Express (coll. Roger Commault)

Sleeping-car 901 of the Peninsular Express (coll. Roger Commault)

The rare combined CIWL sleeper and diner, initially used for the Peninsular-Express, rebuilt from a Pullman which had served Indian Mail passengers in Italy (coll. Roger Commault)

The only known photograph of the Peninsular-Express Calais - Brindisi in Italy, probably with 4-4-0 type class 180 of Rete Adriatica, later 550 of FS (coll. Dr. Bruno Bonazzelli)

Departure Paris PLM, according to contract from 1890:
1F (van)P.L.M.Paris - ...
1WLR (sleeper/diner)CIWLParis Nord - Brindisi
2-3WL (sleeper)CIWLCalais - Brindisi
1F (van)P.L.M.Paris - ...
CIWL WL as well as WL and WLR ex Pullman Palace Car Co. in 1892 were replaced by a new WL type from Jackson Sharp (USA) and WRS (diner with fumoir). Then also CIWL vans were used. Colors: varnished teak.

Later temporarily "alleges postales" were added. Northbound the Peninsular-Express was a part of La Malle des Indes.

Malle des Indes
Brindisi - Calais, e.g. Nov.25, 1904 in France:
1 F (van)CIWL
1 WRS (diner)CIWL
1 WL (sleeper)CIWL
1 F (van)CIWL
several "alleges postales".

According to French documents the formation at least temporarily was much more complicated.

Australian Mail
The once-monthly Australian Mail for the Orient Line most time was combined with the Malle des Indes. From 1904 the mail vans were detached at Foggia for Naples, returning on a special Naples - Modane. The Orient Liners for Australia started at London Tilbury Docks and there were specials to the docks. In London for some time also there had been P&O specials Paddington - Eastern Docks. The Orient Liners called at Marseille and Naples. During World War I the Australian Mail was conveyed via Vancouver or San Francisco. After WWI the Orient Line called at Toulon instead of Marseille and the Australian section of La Malle des Indes was diverted to La Seyne-sur-Mer, connecting with the steamers, which anchored in the Bay of Toulon. Passengers for the Orient Liners may have used the Train Bleu for Toulon or the Rome-Express for Naples. In 1939 all these services ended.

Connecting trains in Australia and New Zealand see chapter Round-the-World.

Calais - Marseille Arenc before WWI:
1F (van)PLM, later CIWL
1WR (diner)CIWL
3-5WL (sleeper)CIWL
1-2F (van)PLM

Colors: CIWL varnished teak, also teak/cream.
In 1922 the Bombay-Express was re-equipped with the first CIWL all-steel sleepers series S, nos. 2641-46, initially brown, then dark-blue.

Bombay-Express, arrival at Marseille Quai c.1900 (contemporary press, coll. Roger Commault)

Overland P&O Express, CIWL sleeping-cars LX "Grand Luxe" (P&O advertisement)

Cars 909, 664 and 663 of the "Bombay Express" after the accident near Montelimar on Dec.7, 1906 (coll. Roger Commault)

Sleeping-car 2647 of the "Bombay Express", probably brown (Keene, coll. R. Commault, Dr. F. Stoeckl)

Overland P&O Express
Calais - Marseille Arenc, 1937:
1F (van)CIWL
1WR (diner)CIWL
7WL (sleeper LX 16)CIWL
1F (van)CIWL

Colors: dark-blue. The LX16 had replaced the first S type all-steel sleepers.

Malle des Indes
Departure Calais, 1938:
1st section Calais - Marseille (Indian Mail):
1 allege metallique
6 alleges en bois
1 fourgon ambulant
1 allege metallique

2nd section Calais - La Seyne-sur-Mer (Australian Mail) :
1 allege metallique a coupe
5 alleges en bois
1 fourgon de services

Separate trains, but south of Paris united. The postal vans belonged to the P.T.T.

In 1939 all the de-Luxe and special mail trains ended.

Traction Calais - Marseille and Brindisi
Nord: Initially single-drivers, possibly also Cramptons were used, then 2-4-0, 4-4-0, 4-4-2,from 1909 tenwheelers, from 1912 Pacifics, from 1923 Super-Pacific, from 1934 Chapelon-Pacifics for expresses. Colors: green/black, from 1891 maroon/black.
PLM and predecessors: single-drivers, Cramptons, then 2-4-0, 4-4-0, 4-4-2, towards WWI tenwheelers, from 1903 Pacifics for expresses. The Mountain 241A from 1925 was shown on an ad for the Overland-Express. Colors:olive/black.
Mont Cenis, system Fell 1.10 m gauge: 0-4-0T and then 0-4-2T tank engines.
Societa delle Ferrovie dell' Alta Italia: Modane - Piacenza/Parma until 1885, 2-2-2 or 2-4-0 and from 1878 4-4-0 types. Frejus section 0-6-0 and then 0-8-0 type Sigl.
Rete Mediterranea: Modane - Piacenza/Parma from 1885, 4-4-0 ex Alta Italia (FS 510), from 1889 new 4-4-0 (FS 560) and from 1884 4-6-0 types were built. Frejus section 0-8-0 (FS 420).
Societa Italiana per le Strade ferrate Meridionali: Bologna - Brindisi until 1885, 2-4-0 longboiler, from 1882 4-4-0.
Rete Adriatica: Piacenza/Parma - Brindisi from 1885, 4-4-0 heritage, from 1890 new 4-4-0 (FS 552).
FS: Modane - Brindisi from 1905/06, heritage, from 1907 probably 2-6-0 (640), Frejus line possibly 0-10-0 (470), from 1912 partially 3-phase a.c., E550. Colors: black, red wheels.

P&O Boat Train London Tilbury - St. Pancras, Mogul class no. 43120 ex-LMS, June 26, 1959 (British Railways)

In 2015 India signed a MoU with Japan for cooperation in building the proposed Mumbai – Ahmedabad high-speed line.