Court saloon carriage

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Traffic & Transport
1850 - 1899

Empress Elisabeth of Austria famously enjoyed travelling. In 1873 two railway carriages were built for her own personal use, of which the sleeper has been preserved.

The story of the Empress’s court saloon carriage begins in 1872. Elisabeth was journeying back from Merano. It was September, and it was cold inside the carriage. Although the court carriages were elegantly appointed, there was no stove. So whenever the train stopped at a railway station, metal bottles were filled with hot water.

After the trip the Empress’s complaints did not fall on deaf ears, and a lively exchange of correspondence ensued. The railway administration was required to provide an adequate and modern carriage. Ringhoffer’s in Prague was commissioned with the contract and supplied a saloon carriage and a sleeper car.

Everything that was state-of-the-art at the time was incorporated for the Empress. Coal-fired stoves stoked from the outside were fitted underneath the carriage. Air dampers were used to regulate the ambient temperature inside the carriage. The sleeper car also had its own water closet.

Since the Empress’s travels took her right across Europe, the carriage also had to comply with the technical standards of every country she journeyed to. Innovations such as electric lighting and a steam heating system were retrofitted.

After Elisabeth’s death the carriage was stabled in a siding at the court carriage depot at the Westbahnhof and, out of reverence, no longer used. In 1916 the Historical Museum of the Austrian Railways relocated to the new premises at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum), which also became the new home of Elisabeth’s court saloon carriage, complete with all its fittings and furnishings.

Inv.Nr. 40331

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