By Julius de Waal

The Trans Europ Express was famous in postwar European railway history. The network was set up in 1957 following an idea of F.Q. den Hollander, then president-director of the Dutch railway company which persuaded railway companies to cooperate to compete against emerging air travel. It was a network jointly operated by the railways of West Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. Belgium and Luxembourg joined later.

The modern and fast trains with only first-class seats were primarily aimed at business travelers. In 1957, the TEE network connected 70 European cities and 20 years later that had grown to 130 cities. TEE train schedules were timed, as far as possible, to allow a business traveller to make a round trip within a single working day. Each train was named, and all were expresses, stopping only at the main cities.

The TEE was innovative not only technically, but also in terms of design, with its distinctive red and cream livery.

The network reached its peak around 1975. A few years later the decline started and in 1979 the German railways converted a number of TEEs into Intercity trains with two classes. Other countries followed suit. By 1987 most were replaced by two-class EuroCity trains. Air traffic increased and had become more affordable. TEE trains were relatively expensive, and intercity trains with two classes proved more popular.

At the same time high-speed trains arrived, firstly the French TGV in 1981 and the German ICE from 1985 onwards. These trains were a continuation of the TEE, but no longer first-class only.

The subject of the model, the Swiss-Dutch diesel multiple units of the TEE Edelweiss were taken out of service in 1974.  The units were sold to a Canadian railway company, which continued with them until 1996. A group of railway enthusiasts brought five cars back to Europe, including two control cars. The motor cars had been demolished. The Trans Europ Express Netherlands Foundation is committed to refurbishing the trains. 



It is left to builders to add their own choice of power and control units.