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Elizabethan Express (1954)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In the wide expanse of King's Cross station, a host of people mill about. It is Summertime - the time for traveling. A portly station superintendent sits with phone in his quiet office, arranging things with a jaunty air. A new seasonal service begins today: The Elizabethan.

People and things mobilise for its departure: the driver and his fireman sign in, passengers begin to form lines, porters follow and the chef checks his resources.

Finally, a locomotive pulls into the station, with the words The Silver Fox emblazoned on its side. Workers carefully link it up to carriages, and families begin to board. A guard nervously checks his timetable and - given the OK - the train eases forward. A lone fitter watches it pull away and pictures the hard work he did to get the engine ready.

The Silver Fox chugs resplendently ahead at top speed. A dapper man behind an elegant counter serves a variety of refreshments. Behind a door, the kitchen staff is bustling. Several waiters begin to serve the meal with flair. Far ahead of the train walk rail workers, checking for gaps in the tracks to ensure a smooth journey.

As the Elizabethan passes York, a Scots crew - consisting of driver MacCloud and fireman Mungo - relieves the first pair. The passengers gaze contentedly at the lovely Yorkshire landscape. Porters commence their corridor service.

Picking up a signal, driver MacCloud pulls back on the brake and the Silver Fox slows to a crawl. The decision was made by 'men in control rooms', who sit armed with microphones and switches, directing the flow of train traffic.

But for the Elizabethan, being a special express for the holiday season, no delays are tolerated. Upon reaching Newcastle, MacCloud is given the go-ahead to cut four minutes off the running time if he can. The fireman crunches chunks of coal and heaves them into the furnace, and the Silver Fox pushes on.

At Waverly Station, a voice announces the happy news: the Elizabethan is running on time. Moments later, it pulls into the station. The stationmaster puts on his top hat and prepares to greet the new arrival. Picturesque Edinburgh stands ready to do the same.