Georges Nagelmackers

Georges Lambert Casimir Nagelmackers (born 24 June 1845 in Liège, Belgium; deceased 10 August 1905 in Villepreux, France) (60 years old) was the founder of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, the company known for the Orient Express trains.[1]

Georges Nagelmackers
Route of the Orient Express from 1883 to 1914
Olympic medal record
Representing  Belgium
Gold medal – first place 1900 Paris Mail coach


Born into a family of bankers with interests in railways and close links to the court of King Leopold II of Belgium, Georges Nagelmackers trained as a civil engineer.[2] As a young man he fell in love with an older cousin. When his feelings were not reciprocated, his family encouraged him to travel to the United States of America to help him recover and also further his professional studies. He spent a total of 10 months travelling throughout America during which time he was exposed to train travel on Pullman carriages. He became convinced that there was a market for Pullman type carriages in Europe. After a proposal to George Pullman to collaborate on developing the European market was rebuffed Nagelmackers returned to Europe.[3]

Other versions of his biography maintain that Georges Nagelmackers knew about sleeping cars as they were already in operation in Belgium before he traveled to the United States, and that he never actually met George Pullman.[4]

In 1870 he published a proposal to develop sleeper carriages for the European market called "Projet d'Installation de wagons-lits sur les chemins de fer du continent" (Project for the installation of sleeping cars on the railways of the Continent).[2][4] However the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War delayed the granting of a concession from the Belgian government and the establishment of his first sleeper carriage service.

In 1873, Georges Nagelmackers founded the company Georges Nagelmackers & Company, which later became Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). He headquartered the company in Paris and created the Compagnie Internationale des Grands Hotels to develop and operate luxury hotels throughout its trains' routes. His strategy consisted of convincing train operators to attach his sleeping and restaurant cars to their trains to diversify the train travelers' choices. The first CIWL-only train became operational in 1882.[3]

The Orient Express was launched 4 October 1883.[3] Later, he bought the Mudanya-Bursa line and sold it to the French in 1891. He also bought the Izmir-Kasaba Railway in 1893 that he also sold to the French the following year.[5]

He competed in the equestrian mail coach event at the 1900 Summer Olympics, winning the gold medal.[6]


  1. ^ "Georges Nagelmackers". Olympedia. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Tanel. Page 94.
  3. ^ a b c Mark Tungate (2017). The Escape Industry: How Iconic and Innovative Brands Built the Travel Business. Kogan Page Publishers. ISBN 9780749473518.
  4. ^ a b "George Nagelmackers". Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  5. ^ V. Necla Geyikdagi (2011). Foreign Investment in the Ottoman Empire: International Trade and Relations 1854–1914. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781848854611.
  6. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Georges Nagelmackers Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  • Mustafa Yazıcı, Mudanya-Bursa Demiryolunun Yapımı ve İşletilmesi (1873–1908), Nilüfer Belediyesi, Bursa, 2015, ISBN 978-605-9897-05-1

Further readingEdit