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R o m e - E x p r e s s

The Orient-Express is mysterious,
the Train Bleu is chic,
the Sud-Express is dignified,
but the Rome-Express is majestic.
George Behrend

Rapide 417 Lyon - Torino, French Maurienne type CC6500 and Italian cars, near St.Jean-de-Maurienne, Nov. 1995 (WS)

Download this picture with 1500 pix, 300 dpi (426 KB)

Diner of a de-Luxe train (publication from 1910)

The Rome-Express was the second de-Luxe of Nagelmanckers' CIWL started in 1883 from Calais and Paris to Rome initially via the Cote d'Azur and so it became the ancestor of the Train Bleu. Then it took the Mont Cenis line with the Frejus - Tunnel and in Italy it ran along the beautiful Ligure coast. From 1902 a sleeper, changing to the Napoli-Palermo-Express, brought the wealthy tourists to the venerable capital of Sicily, where they might have stayed in the Grand Hotel Palme, half a century before the famous Mafia and Cosa Nostra conference took place in that noble house.

Typical locomotives of the Rome-Express were the Pacifics of PLM and in Italy the 685 class 2-6-2s. Very early the electrification started: In 1910 already the Giovi Pass north of Genova was equipped with 3.3kV three-phase ac based on the work by Hungarian pioneer Kalman Kando. The small black E550 locomotive type was called "il piccolo gigante dei Giovi". Within Naples from 1925 the E320 on a 0.75kV dc third-rail system hauled the Rome-Expess. When the Diretissima Bologna - Naples was electrified in 1935, the 3kV dc E428 became standard (and with it the khaki color scheme). In the French Alps the Chambery - Modane section was electrified in 1928 with 1.5kV dc, initially with a third-rail system for the really gigantic 2CC2 class engines. With World War II the second and last epoch of the Grands Express Europeens ended.

The Rome-Express re-emerged in 1952. Temporarily it was even an exclusive Wagons-Lits train, but in 1960 a section of the Simplon-Orient-Express, later Simplon-Express, took over the sleeping-cars Paris - Rome and Naples. In 1969 it was replaced by the “Palatino” via Modane, from 2002 via Simplon and then banned from Paris Gare de Lyon. Its sleeping-cars Paris - Rome became operated by Italian-French Artesia. The Simplon-Express on the Venice route was replaced by the “Stendhal” Paris - Venice with a branch for Torino.

Timetable extract
Rome-Express, Berlin-Rom-Neapel (-Palermo,-Taormina)-Express, Wien-Rom-Neapel (-Palermo,-Taormina)-Expess, Napoli-Palermo-Express, Jan. 1911
(1,4,6)14:00km 0Paris PLM (7,2,4)14:20
(2,5,7)17:451442Rome (6,1,3)12:20
(1,4)09:40km 0Berlin(7,4)21:13
(1,4,6)14:00km 0Vienna(7,2,4)16:20
(2,5,7)18:20km 0Rome(6,1,3)12:00
(6,1) 18:10951Palermo(7,2)14:10
(3)14:05761Taormina (5)07:07

Timetable extract
Golden Arrow, Fleche d'Or,
Rome-Express, October 1952:

10:00 dep Londonarr18:50
14:37dep Calaisarr15:17
19:50dep Parisarr9:05
16:10arr Romedep12:25

Rome Express
CIWL de-Luxe, departure Calais, 1887 :
1 F (van)CIWLCalais - Pisa - Florence - Rome
2 WL (sleepers)CIWLCalais - Pisa - Florence - Rome
2 WRS (restaurant)CIWLCalais - Pisa - Florence - Rome
1 F (van)CIWLCalais - Pisa - Florence - Rome
The vans were 6- or 4-wheelers.

Geoge Behrend mentioned in History of Trains de Luxe for the Calais-Paris-Nice-Rome-Express in 1883/84 the sleeping cars WL 145-147 and 154, for the Rome-Express from 1922 wooden S2 from series 2606-2630, from 1929 WL LX from series 3466-3555 and a van with shower from series 1277-1296.

Roma Termini, August 1957:
E428 (1st series, dc)FSRome - Genova Brignole
1 Fourgon (van)SNCFRome - Paris
1 WL LXCIWLNaples - Paris
2 WL LXCIWLRome - Paris
1 WL YCIWLRome - Calais
1 WR (restaurant)CIWLNaples - Torino
Colors: CIWL dark blue, SNCF dark green, E428 khaki.

Paris Gare de Lyon, August 12, 1984:
CC6548 (1.5 kVdc)SNCFModane - Paris
1 Gril ExpressSNCFChambery - Paris
4 WL (types MU, T2)ex-CIWLRome - Paris
7 Bc (couchettes aircond.)SNCFRome - Paris
3 Bc (couchettes)SNCFRome - Paris
Colors : CC turquoise ("livree Maurienne"), Gril Express grey/maroon, WL dark-blue, Bc (aircond.) light-grey/dark-blue, Bc dark-blue/light-grey.

Venice - Milan Lambrate - Paris Bercy, departure Venice, Nov.22, 2006:
E444FSVenice - Domodossola
5 Bc (couchettes aircond.)FSVenice - Paris
1 WR (diner)FSVenice - Paris
3 WL (sleepers ex CIWL)FSVenice - Paris
Several WL and Bc Torino - Milan - Paris are added
Colors: E444 turquoise/pastel, Bc dark-blue/yellow/pastel fancy colors, WR turquoise/red/pastel, WL turquoise/dark-blue.

Rome-Express northbound, FS 2-6-2 type class 685 at Rome before 1935, one of the few photographs of that de-Luxe (coll. J.B. Kronawitter)

Rapide 505 Paris - Simplon - Milan - Rome, PLM tenwheeler no.2578 and PLM cars, in France (old postcard)

Rapide 609 Paris - Modane - Rome (not the Rome-Express), 4-8-0 type class 240P, rebuilt by Chapelon, departure Paris Gare de Lyon 1950 (Raymond Floquet)

Malta Railways Valletta – Notabile, meter gauge engine 1243 (coll. Hunslet Holdings)