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Published April 04, 2017 Updated September 04, 2022

The Blue Train (Bloutrein)

“The Blue Train” playing cards from the luxury train service in South Africa.

South Africa Protea Railway Souvenir Transport Vsoe Add to Collection

A service to rival “The Orient Express” with tickets starting at £600 per adult (based on two sharing a compartment), this is a luxury train service in South Africa. Decks are manufactured by Protea Playing Card Company and appear to be available on-board the train as single decks or double boxed sets. Each card depicts a different railway locomotive, repeated in each suit in blue or red against a gold background. The reverse features a floral design. See the Box

“The Blue Train” playing cards from the luxury train service in South Africa “The Blue Train” playing cards from the luxury train service in South Africa “The Blue Train” playing cards from the luxury train service in South Africa

Above: “The Blue Train” (Bloutrein) playing cards from the luxury train service made by Protea Playing Card Company, a later repring, with updated artwork, of a deck first published in c.1978 (shown below). There are three jokers, one red and two blue. Each suit has the same images. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

Earlier Versions

Early edition of “The Blue Train” playing cards from the luxury train service in South Africa, c.1978

Above: earlier edition of “The Blue Train” playing cards published by the South African Railway Museum. Depicts 52 different steam locomotives, one on each card. The back is described as "an allegorical motif of the museum". Unique cartoon joker. Made by the Protea Playing Card Co, Johannesburg, South Africa, c.1978.

Around the same time similar sets were published by SA Spoorwegmuseum / SA Railway Museum, South Station Building, De Villiers Street, Johannesburg, showing the same fronts but with different backs, on plastic film laminated card. 52 cards + joker + 2 extra cards in plain box.

published by SA Spoorwegmuseum / SA Railway Museum, Johannesburg, c.1970s

Above: pack published by SA Spoorwegmuseum / SA Railway Museum, Johannesburg, c.1970s. Courtesy Lotte Wintle & Francis Bevers.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.


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