Can anyone tell me whether the Titanic and/or other ships of Olympic class were connected to railway routes on the continental Europe via Cherbourg or other ports? Possibly Orient express or similar kind? Thanks!
Cherbourg had an excellent rail connection with Paris, and special trains equipped with Pullman cars, like the New York Express, were run to make the connection for 1st and 2nd Class travellers on the liners.
I note that 1st Class Fare Rate booklets also have a to/from Paris via Harve fare which is 5/- less than the to/from Paris via Cherbourg fare. Any idea how passengers got from Harve to the ship? - I guess by boat, but I have never seen mention of one.
Lester, that's a mystery if it relates specifically to Titanic. They may have been keeping their options open for the future - certainly in the 20's there were cases of White Star transatlantic services switching from Cherbourg to Le Havre and vice versa.
George, Pullman cars were the most luxurious available for rail travel, as used most famously on the Orient Express. And of course the Orient Express started from Paris, so it would have been possible for White Star passengers to continue their journey in luxury all the way across Europe by rail from Cherbourg to Venice.
The Fare Rate booklets are dated May 1913, specifically the Olympic, the Oceanic and the Majestic. [rates in £]. - All 3 ships were on the Southampton, Cherbourg, Queenstown to New York run. - Havre is listed under all 3.
The other booklet is dated January 1912. - The ships are the Oceanic, the Titanic and the Olympic. - Rates are in US $. - Havre is listed for all 3.
Lester, that's odd. The only other possibility I can think of is that the rail prices were a standard list appended to all the fare booklets. Cherbourg was the obvious port of call for liners going to and from Southampton, as it involved the shortest possible diversion to France from the direct route to Queenstown and the Atlantic. Le Havre is about 60 miles in the wrong direction, but closer to Paris and ideal for the French Line; British Lines favoured it also for routes starting from London, and the White Star Star route to Canada in the '20s started with London - Le Havre - Southampton. But did they have any routes with a Le Havre-Southampton component in 1913? Hopefully someone out there has an answer for us.
Here's an interesting extract from the account of a Third Class traveller in 1912, describing his journey from Bulgaria to New York. At this point he is on the French railway system and heading for Paris and points beyond:
"Again, we got back on the train. This time we headed northward across France. At Le Havre, France, on the Seine River, we boarded a channel boat, crossed the English Channel and arrived at Southampton, England. This is where we boarded
the White Star liner Olympic. We had started across the Atlantic Ocean and on our way to America".
The question is, why did he not go from Paris to Cherbourg and board the Olympic there? Is it possible that White Star absorbed extra costs for this route from Paris (which involved a lot more mileage than a direct Cherbourg connection) because they preferred to get as many as possible of the passengers settled aboard before their ships left Southampton? I doubt that First Class travellers would have been influenced by the opportunity to save a few shillings, but perhaps they might have had their own reasons for taking this roundabout route, and White Star allowed for the possibility.
That is how the Lefebvre family boarded Titanic. - they travelled from their home in Lieven to Le Harve and then by boat to Southampton.
The Fare Rate booklets make no mention of any added travel. The indication being that passengers can board from Havre. - It comes under the general heading: Through Bookings from London and Paris. - To and from Paris via Havre.
As a footnote: Plymouth is included but Eastbound only: to Plymouth and to London via Plymouth.
I note the points contained in your final paragraph.