Atlantic Express is situated in the hub of Sea point, which was originally deemed commercially unsuitable in Express boasts to be one of the most elegant & famous restaurants. In the early 1990’s Ivan R Flints is the architect who put the Atlantic Express carriage into place. The Architect clambered through the “SAR Culemborg Marshalling Yard” in Woodstock, where old and derelict carriages had been stored, which was later to be disposed of. The chosen carriage was the only salvageable one, the original colour being chocolate brown. There was inspiration found from “The Blue Train” and repainted it blue. The original intention had been to hang wheels on the carriage’s bogie but needed to obtain special permission from the Fire Department. The request was to have an extended entrance staircase up from pavement level. A negotiation was compiled for the building of a short length of railway, complete with wooden sleepers and gravel.
However, there was a last moment fear that the immense height would break visual and commercial interaction with the surroundings, and that the raised undercarriage could become a place for refuse. The rails and bogies were therefore abandoned for good and eventually the carriage had to be lowered. The interior was virtually stripped, keeping the original teak walls and ceiling. The seating and tables were reconfigured, turning some to face sideways in a U-formation which is unique compared to the old regular benches.
A challenge was the toilets, which were supposed to be built outside of the carriage in a separate plastered masonry structure that would appear to be part of the adjacent Cape Mediterranean Round Church Building complex. Somehow a plan was formed to keep the bathroom in the carriage which is a convince for the customers of Atlantic Express. The carriage was fully refurbished over a period four months. It was in the early morning when an enormous mobile crane slowly travelled all the way from the Culemborg yards, through the deserted streets making its way to Sea point, while dangling the carriage high above. An hour later, the “Atlantic Express” was slowly swung into place. The whole design and refurbishment team were in attendance, with the chief interior contractor appropriately dressed in white flannels, striped blazer and cheese-cutter.
In 2022 when the Atlantic Express was taken over by new management, the owner deemed it necessary for a fresher, modern look. This renovation also took four months to complete. From the design to the hard labour, it was completed with lots of creativeness, enthusiasm and vigour. Just like when the carriage first went under reconstruction, this time around it was also done from scratch where the train was fully stripped leaving the teak wooden furniture and ceiling.