MovieChat Forums > The Lady Vanishes (1979) Discussion > Train crosses English Channel?

Train crosses English Channel?


Will someone please explain how the train, which had been traveling in Germany, arrive in London? Was this a magical train that could cross open ocean? A rather obvious and large incongruity.

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I just assumed they got off the train in France, crossed the Channel, then took another train to London.

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Back in the days before the Chunnel, the ferry from Oostend (Belgium) to Dover accommodated train traffic. That's the only one I noticed trains on-- possibly others did too.



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Hmmm...interesting. So they would drive the train onto a ferry boat, engine and all, sail across the channel, drive the train off and continue on?

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Yep, that's exactly right. They would disconnect the cars occasionally, so it went onto the boat in a number of side-by-side lines.

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[deleted]

I don't think the engine went on the ferry. I believe the cars were pushed onto the ferry by one engine. Then, the cars were removed from the ferry and taken to London by another engine. It is not necessary to ferry a bazillion-ton engine when there are others on the other side of the channel.

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Maybe it's the Eurostar?

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The other posters got it correct. I was brought up in Brussels, and can remember taking the (sleeper) train from Brussels Midi to Ostend, where the cars were shunted onto the ferry, leaving the loco behind on the dockside. In Dover, the procedure was reversed, and the train proceeded to London. Customs officials boarded the train at Dover, and checked passports while the train proceeded direct to London Victoria. This would have been circa 1970, when the cross-channel ferries were much smaller (and slower) than their modern counterparts. This was also by far the more expensive option, as the whole point of the exercise was to ensure an untroubled night’s sleep-as a small boy, however, I found the whole experience far too exciting, hence my memories! The actual channel crossing (which would have taken some 7 hours) was not particularly interesting, however, as the passenger cars were stowed below decks. It was like being shunted into a dark tunnel! Although we only took the boat train from Brussels, there were also services from Paris, Nice, Berlin, Milan etc. I believe Simplon originally operated them.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...

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Thanks for the details Adams5905.
Seven hours in a train stowed in a boat...sounds miserable. I recently watched a PBS doc about the Orient Express>>> David Suchet (from Poirot fame) traveled from London to Istanbul. At the channel, they disembarked from the train, drove a Rolls Royce onto a Chunnel train and boarded a new train in France. All in all, it seems a unique and quaint way to travel. Romantic and nostalgic. I would love to do it.

Cheers!

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The majority of the seven hours on the train, I was asleep, as I should imagine most of the other passengers were! The ferry left Ostend at between 2300 and midnight. There was a steward service available all night, as I remember, with the food presumably being brought down from the ship's galley. When the train was reassembled at Dover, a new restaurant car was attached, serving breakfast on the journey to London (I have gleaned this new information from my mother), although the bar stayed closed! It was quite some time ago, when people still made an effort to enjoy the travelling process, and weren't simply interested in reaching their journey's end as soon as possible.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...

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This still happens in several places in Europe, from the short crossing on the Vogelfluglinie from Puttgarden (Germany) to Rødby (Denmark), where the train is a Multiple Unit, and drives on complete, to the longer crossing from Trelleborg (Sweden) to Sassnitz (Germany) on the Berlin Night Express.

Get yourself an Inter-rail pass, and try them out!

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While the above is all correct and good. The film actually tells you how they are getting to London.

The train in the film is going to Basel (I think) where they are all meeting the connecting train to Calais (and presumeably the ferry to Dover etc.) That is why Caldicot and Charters deny seeing Miss Froy, because they don't want to miss the connection.

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Was this a magical train that could cross open ocean?
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The train did not cross an ocean, it crossed the English Channel which is a stretch of water around twenty to thirty miles wide. Hardly an ocean.

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More germane: How did the train get across the German border? I just saw the '79 version tonight, but I've long had the same question about the original movie.

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