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Motorail - 1956
In the 1950s, the boom of tourism reinforced the train’s dominance. But it was only temporary, because the train soon had two powerful competitors: the car and, to a lesser extent, the plane, which offered the possibility of more distant destinations. To take up this challenge, in 1956 NMBS/SNCB created the first car-sleeper trains on the continent.
Car-sleeper trains, also known as motorail trains, served many tourist destinations abroad. Passengers could spend the night in sleeper coaches or couchettes. Their cars travelled with them on specially-designed transport wagons.
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Class 54 - 1957
After the Second World War, NMBS/SNCB wanted to gradually replace steam locomotives with new traction engines and was particularly interested in the American diesel traction experience. Forty type 202, 203 and 204 locomotives (later named classes 52, 53 and 54) were ordered under General Motors licence.
Type 204 was restricted to eight diesel locomotives that derived from type 202 but which were faster (140 km/h instead of 120 km/h). Type 204 became class 54 in 1971. They were mainly used to tow international passenger trains, light freight trains and for internal services.
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TEE - 1957
The Trans Europ Express (TEE) trains were first commissioned in 1957. The result of a collaboration between the main European railway companies, they were upscale and fast trains which connected the large European cities on a daily basis. Originally they were in distinctive uniform colours (red and beige). Each train also had its own name, related to the line or the final destination (Étoile du Nord, Memling, Oiseau bleu, Rubens, Diamant, etc.). The targeted clientele was business men and women seeking speed and comfort. The TEE trains were decommissioned in 1987.
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