Royal coach of Léopold I - 1848
After the revolution of 1830, it became apparent that our young nation would only be viable if it rapidly had effective communication means. The creation of a railway network met the criteria. King Leopold I supported the project and, on 5th May 1835, he was able to inaugurate the first line connecting Brussels to Malines. In 1841, the existence of a royal coach was mentioned for the first time in the annual report presented by the Belgian Minister of Public Works to the House of Representatives.
In 1842 and 1848, the report mentioned the construction of two new royal coaches, called A2 and A3. This is a representation of the carriage A3 with three axles, which had a more elaborated suspension technique.
Wagons-Lits - 1872
In 1872, with the creation of the first sleeping car company, Liège-born Georges Nagelmackers revolutionised the railway world. He only had five of these coaches during this period. Four years later, in 1876, the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits was founded with the support of King Léopold II. In the Europe of nations and empires, railway gauges vary from one country to another imposing load breaks at borders, i.e. the obligation for passengers to change trains. The ambition of Georges Nagelmackers was to offer passengers an uninterrupted journey without having to change trains. To do so, he designed standard equipment able to travel everywhere, with traction provided by local locomotives where necessary. Nagelmackers also transformed railway travel, which until then had been fairly uncomfortable, by fitting out his coaches with the luxury standards of comfort and service of the upmarket hotels on the Riviera and in large cities. His trains would become palaces on rails.
GCI - 1901
Due to the increase in passenger numbers, in 1888, the Belgian state railway company put large-capacity coaches (GC: Grande Capacité) with three axles into service. They contained 80 seats divided over eight compartments, the highest number up to this point.
In 1901, an innovation appeared with the development of an interior side corridor. Previously, passengers had to go outside to change compartments. Another change was the introduction of doors at the ends of each vehicle, allowing the travelling ticket inspector to move easily from one coach to another. This innovation transformed the life of on-board staff. These coaches were called GCI (Grande Capacité à Intercirculation).