The Night Ferry (continued)

From the spring of 1961 second class seating was re-introduced to and from Paris and on 30 September 1962 the electrification between Arras and Dunkerque  was completed allowing the train to arrive in Paris twenty minutes earlier at 08:40 am.
Diesel traction had taken over from steam in Belgium so steam was now completely eliminated on the Night Ferry.
Summer 1963 saw the introduction of one class only on the ships and first class foot passengers could claim a refund for the sea voyage. The train was now proving to be very popular.


From 2 December 1963 the loading was increased to 19 vehicles, of which ten were sleeping cars (550 tons), three were vans (54.5 tons), two buffet cars (78 tons – being two S1755/56/72), one restaurant car (36 tons – either S1006 or S1080), two seconds (66 tons – from S40031/3/5) and a composite brake (37 tons) thus giving a tare weight of 851.5 tons, the heaviest regular passenger train of British Railways. The Night Ferry star was at its apogee !

At the end of 1967 there came the fourth terminal destination – Basle, or Bale as the board on the side of the sleeping car had it. This started on 16 December from Victoria and back from Basle the next day. It served a variety of towns and cities en route, including Strasbourg and arrived in Basle at 14:12 returning at 15:50. It was purely a seasonal winter sports venture lasting until 16 (London) / 17 (Basle) March 1968 and was resurrected for the period 20 December 1968 – 1 March 1969.The popularity of the train was now in decline as air transport became more dependable and frequent. To counter the fall in traffic , tariffs were reduced in 1967 and again in 1968.

After well over thirty years service Hampton Ferry was taken off the service in the spring of 1969 remaining on freight work until the autumn when it was replaced by a multi-purpose ship Vortigern registered at London by BR taking vehicular and train traffic as occasion demanded.  Shepperton Ferry followed her sister in the summer of 1972 and in February 1974 the SNCF introduced the new multi-purpose ship Chartres.of Calais shortly after which the last of the original trio, Twickenham Ferry had her final sailing in May. Last of the ferry ships was the Saint Eloi, owned by the ALA and registered at Dunkerque which was commissioned in March 1975 and remained the principal ship for the rest of the time.

The announcement to withdraw The Night Ferry was made on March 4 1980 by BR’s chairman , Sir Peter Parker C.V.O., during a visit to France, out of range of the British press.

Sir Peter said the Night Ferry Sleeper train had to be withdrawn because of the growing deficit (quoted later at GBP 120,000 per year) and because the number of freight wagons carried via Dover-Dunkerque had risen by 50% between January 1979 and 1980 requiring all available space on the train deck. He said that the sleeping cars had reached the end of their useful lives and that to build new cars or convert existing cars would merely increase the loss on the route.

On Friday 31 October 1980 at 21.25 the last Night Ferry left Victoria.


Sources :

Mr Alan Brown Esq.,  specialist on Southern Railways
Night Ferry by George Behrend and Gary Buchanan
Pullman Perfection by F. Burtt and W. Beckerlegge
Southern Titled Trains by Derek Winkworth
SR 150 a century and a half of the Southern Railway by David St John Thomas and Patrick Whitehouse


>>>          1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
Home / Profile / products / History / Gallery / News / Events / Purchase / Contact / catalogue
The copyrights / trademarks in all material provided on this Site belong to Darstaed.
None of the material may be reproduced, copied, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted in any form with out the prior written consent of Darstaed.