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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Royal train 'no Orient Express'
The Prince Of Wales' lounge in the royal train
The royal train has not been refurbished for years
The royal train has been opened to the public in an attempt to dispel its lavish image.

The carriages, housed in a rail works shed near Wolverton station, Buckinghamshire, will carry the Queen to every corner of Britain during her Golden Jubilee tour.

Director of royal travel Tim Hewlett said: "There is a perception the train is a bit like the Orient Express.

"But there are not many bathroom furnishings you could not get in Homebase or B&Q."

The staff dining car in the royal train
A bullet hole from an accident in June 2000 has yet to be repaired

He said the train was popular with the Royal Family as an ideal way to travel overnight.

"Get up at a reasonable hour and be ready for a function a long way from London," he said.

They could be taken into the heart of a city without the added complications of travel to and from airports, Mr Hewlett added.

But the man in charge of the Royal finances, Sir Michael Peat, the keeper of the Privy Purse, has said the train will be subject to a "serious review" next year.

Bunk beds

Questions asked will include whether it is needed at all.

Since 1997, the annual cost of the Railtrack-owned train has been reduced from 1.9m a year to 600,000 a year, even though it was only used 17 times last year - a cost of 35,000 per journey.

The age of the carriages on the royal train vary, but the Queen's and Duke of Edinburgh's saloons were built in 1972 and converted for royal use for the 1977 Silver Jubilee.

The Private Secretary's office in the royal train
The train is fully fitted out with modern office and communication equipment

They have bedrooms, bathrooms and sitting rooms and are fully fitted out with modern office and communication equipment.

The Prince of Wales' lounge car contains easy chairs, a writing desk, a 1960s-style Roberts portable radio and pictures from his private collection.

A carriage for senior members of the Queen's staff has single bunk beds with bedside tables and a breakfast table.

By the beds is a telephone with a list of the extension numbers on the train.

Plastic flag

En-suite bathrooms have pink plastic baths and sinks with Pears soap in dishes, plain mahogany toilet seats and clear plastic shower curtains.

A compartment used as an office by various private secretaries has a fax machine and telephone bearing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's extension numbers.

A framed senior railcard made out in the name of the Duke of Edinburgh in the royal train
A framed senior railcard in the name of the Duke of Edinburgh adorns a wall

Two battered red despatch boxes used for the Queen's correspondence lie on a desk, next to a plastic Union flag.

A 2002 copy of Who's Who is also at hand.

The sleeping and office accommodation has pastel carpets and check curtains.

And the Buckingham Palace staff dining car is laid out in the style of a first-class train carriage.

Most rooms contain bottles of Tesco's Perthshire mountain spring water.

The two locomotives, Prince William and Prince Henry, are used for other duties when the royal train is not being used.

See also:

02 May 02 | England
Queen continues West Country tour
02 May 02 | England
Picture gallery: Jubilee tour
21 Mar 02 | England
Queen heads to the suburbs
16 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Royal train's future in doubt
28 Jun 01 | UK
Royal finances laid bare
22 Jun 01 | UK
Royal travel costs slashed
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