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   Orient-Express adieu...


N o s t a l g i c   O r i e n t   E x p r e s s e s

" The, fumee, qui laisse une odeur qui est comme un gout de miel et de poivre ; jour de dix heures un instant sur la gare qu'on traverse d'un seul coup et qui genit blesse ; hymnes qui remplissez mon esprit d'une harmonie familiere et un peu triste, sage petite priere malgre moi de mon cœur ; vitesse ; paysage ; argent gaspille ; amour offert dont personne ne veut ; vagabondage ; petites emotions de la kleptomanie ; longs bains trop chauds ; parfums et souvenirs ; a vous cette ame perdue. "

Valery Larbaud
" A.O. Barnabooth "




Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express, class E18 no.118 047 on a daylight trip at Emskirchen, Franken, October 14, 1984 (Anton Soelch)

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German Pacific 18 201 (02 0201) with a special at Orlamuende, Thueringen (Friedhelm Ernst)

German Pacific 01 1102 with a special Stuttgart - Budapest, at Koestendorf, Austria, July 11, 1996 (WS)

Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express (NIOE)
Though a first attempt to start a Croisiere de-Luxe by Comte Guy de Casteja in 1967 had failed, the myth “Orient Express” survived with nostalgic de-Luxe trains: In 1976 Alby Glatt of Switzerland together with Walter Finkbohner organized the first Simplon-Orient, then Arlberg-Orient de-Luxe special with old CIWL cars. Collecting more and more cars, Glatt created the Nostalgie Istanbul OrientExpress, a tourist special, undertaking trips to Istanbul and other European destinations. Journeys to Baghdad and to Isfahan, Iran, had been planned, but were prevented by wars. In 1988 the sensational voyage to Hong Kong and Japan was undertaken – see chapter Transsiberian. On a trip to Dresden even the Pacific 18 201 (02.0201) hauled the train - at that time world’s fastest steam locomotive in service, capable of achieving more than180 km/h. It was a rebuilt of the 4-6-6 tank locomotive 61 002 and the experimental H45 024, carried out in 1961 by engineer Max Baumberg, backed by East Germany’s minister of transport Kramer.

The ex-CIWL "Pullman" day saloons, a feature of these nostalgic trains, generally did not run in pre-war Orient Expresses, but there were a very few exceptions: The Suisse-Arlberg-Vienne-Express, predecessor of the Arlberg-Orient-Express, in 1930 had a WPB Basle - Vienna and the Carlsbad branch of the Orient-Express in the '30s a few times was seen with a WP (according to Walter Kreinhoefner), possibly replacing one of the sleepers.

Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express
Paris - Vienna - Sopron - Budapest - Bucharest - Sofia - Istanbul, departure Munich, March 31, 1983:
SleeperLX163475
VanF1283Kitchen added
RestaurantexWSP2741ex Sud-Express
PullmanWP4161Cote d' Azur
PullmanWP4158Cote d' Azur
BarWS4164ex Train Bleu
SleeperLX163480
SleeperLX163472
SleeperLX163542
ServiceexWP4013Showers
SleeperLX163537
SleeperLX203551
SleeperLX163487
CouchetteBc SBBStaff
Colors: ex- CIWL dark- blue, except ex-Sud-Express brown/cram, WP dark-blue/cream, Bc SBB dark-green.


In October 1988 on an Istanbul trip modern UH sleepers had replaced the LX and an ex-Rheingold saloon was included, for the original cars were on the Japan trip. Also Fleche d' Or Pullman 4080 and diner 3354 were added, the latter previously used for state visits, e.g. by Kruzhchev.

After problems with the American-European Express in the United States, Alby Glatt gave away his Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express. Reisebuero Mittelthurgau, a subsidiary of Mittelthurgaubahn (MThB), acquired it in 1993. This Swiss enterprise used the Pullmans and diners mainly for day travels, together with “Rheingold” saloons of 1928 and Rheingold TEE cars. MThB bought also ex-DSG sleepers type 33, painted dark-blue. Other NIOE cars were based at Moscow (see chapter Transsiberian). Insolvency of MThB in 2001 interrupted operations of the NIOE in Europe. About commercial chances nothing is known, but rumors reported later a failed sale of cars to an American. After change in ownership, the NIOE was presented in 2006 as Istanbul Orient Express. About its further fate the Web site wakapedia.mobi/de/Orient-Express (in German, via Wikipedia) has stated in 2010: “After insolvency (of MThB) in 2001, Transeurop Eisenbahn AG (TEAG) of Basle took over the NIOE. The company Orient-Express Train de Luxe Betriebs GmbH/ Austria operated it (…). On account of a lawsuit with SNCF, started by VSOE concerning the label “Orient-Express”, the service of the NIOE had to be stopped in 2007…” Alby Glatt, the founder of the Nostalgie Istanbul Orient-Express, continued his activities in the rail tourism sector.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE)
In 1982 another enthusiast, the billionaire James B. Sherwood, a retired U.S. Navy officer and founder of the Sea Containers group, started the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express with ex-CIWL cars, re-designed in nostalgic Belle Epoque style by French architect Gerard Gallet. Initially it ran Boulogne - Paris Austerlitz - Milan - Venice, with connection from London by Sherwood’s Pullman train and the Channel ferries. As business travelers Paris - Milan failed to appear, the VSOE took from 1984 the more attractive way via Arlberg - Brenner, then with a stop at Paris Est, 1993 - 98 with a Dusseldorf branch, and since 2000 Calais - Venice, the channel being crossed by motor coaches, conveyed by Eurotunnel trains. From 1985 to autumn 1990 the refurbished car ferry “Orient Express” had provided a nice connecting service from Venice to Greece and Turkey (see www.ships-worldwide.com). In 2006 the Sea Containers Group filed for insolvency protection and in 2009 completion of restructuring was reported. The VSOE has become a part of Orient Express Hotels Ltd , separated from the restructured shipping activities. Before, there had been rumors that the train would remain in the hands of the Sherwood family. The train is now the only quasi-regular de-Luxe Orient-Express, running during season from Calais to Venice, sometimes to Prague, Budapest, occasionally to Istanbul and from 2007 also to Warsaw, destinations of the various Orient-Expresses long ago. The voyage Paris – Istanbul was offered e.g. in 2011 at a fare of 10,100 euro one-way. In 2012 for the first time the voyage from Hamburg and Berlin to Venice was on offer.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
Venice - Milan - Paris Austerlitz - Boulogne, by VSOE, departure Venice, August 7, 1982:
E656.297 (BoBoBo dc) FS, Venice - Milan
Sleeper LX3539
Sleeper LX3544
Sleeper S3309
Sleeper LX3525
Sleeper LX3482
Service sleeper Y3915
Bar ex WR3674
Restaurant ex WP4110type Etoile du Nord
Pullman WP4141type Cote d' Azur
Restaurant ex WP4095type Etoile du Nord
Service sleeper Y3912
Sleeper LX3473
Sleeper LX3425
Sleeper LX3552
Sleeper LX3543
Colors ex-CIWL: Sleepers dark-blue; Bar, Restaurants, Pullman dark-blue/cream; E656 light-grey/blue.


Folkestone - London, May 5, 1983: 2 vans, 1 staff car, Pullmans Phoenix, Audry, Perses, Xygnus, Ibis, Zena, Ione, Minerva. Colors: British Pullmans dark-brown/cream, other cars brown. Traction: Class 73 (electro-diesel).

Dusseldorf branch, departure Dusseldorf, e.g. in 1995: Sleeper LX, service sleeper Y, restaurant (ex WP Etoile), Bar 24503 (ex Rheingold). Traction: 118 003 (ex E18), then replaced by 110 348. Colors: Sleepers dark-blue, restaurant dark-blue/cream, bar violet/cream; 118 and 110 blue.

Enthusiasts do not forget that the NIOE had been started by Alby Glatt, then followed by the equally beautiful and rather similar VSOE, the "Venice Simplon-Orient-Express".Many years ago, a wonderful lady from New York, who had registered the label 'Orient Express' for the fashion industry (while the train label is owned by French Railways SNCF), told the author mysterious stories about the endless lawsuits for the label of world's most famous train, a matter for the attorneys. When she met the founder of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Mr.James B. Sherwood, he asked: "You know who I am?" - She: "No, never heard" - whereupon he answered: "I am twenty billion dollars." What a drama that his wonderful empire of container ships, car-ferries, high-speed ferries and luxury trains collapsed, that the VSOE, that last true Orient-Express, is no longer in the hands of his founder James B. Sherwood.

Pullman Orient-Express
The Wagons-Lits company created its own Pullman Orient-Express, for hire and then also for Paris evening excursions. Its consist (in 1994) comprised the Cote d'Azur type Pullmans 4151, 4159, the Train Bleu bar saloons 4148, 4160, the service-car 4013, diners and, when required, sleepers. In 2008 it was decided to give it a future refuge in the Mulhouse railway museum. At that time, Wagons-Lits was fully owned by Accord. In 2010 (according to a Web information) a 60% share was sold to Newrest (Eurest), to be followed by the rest in 2013. Accor gave away in 2010 the cars (and also the CIWL archives) to SNCF for preservation.

Other Orient Expresses in Europe
In Greece old cars as well as steam locomotives are preserved as national monuments. Trips with nostalgic ex-CIWL cars were undertaken, but the fantastic project of a Greek Orient Express special Athens - Istanbul or even Izmir didn’t materialize. A completely different tourist special, consisting of new Turkish sleepers and diners, painted white, made an Istanbul - Bucharest - Prague - Vienna - Istanbul tour in 1999. At least one trip every year was planned, but it didn’t come. A Classic Courier with black 1st class cars offered trips to Constanta. A sensation was the announcement of a luxurious Royal Stambul Express with ex-CIWL cars, Hungarian government saloons and even a preserved teakwood diner for a first special trip to Istanbul - a dream. Most fascinating was a simple special running from Nurnberg to Istanbul - steam-hauled...

For the authentical historic posters of the Grand European Expresses see the books by Juergen Klein, the newest one being "La Compagnie Internationale des Grands Hotels".


Turkish all-sleeper special Istanbul - Prague - Vienna - Istanbul, CD locomotive 230039-0, in Czechia 1999 (Radko Friml)

Special Thessaloniki - Idomeni, Greek engine H563, a sleeper ex-CIWL and a diner (formerly Pullman saloon) ex-CIWL, April 22, 2000 (Thomas Grasmueck)


Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Venice - Boulogne, Austrian 1020 and 1110, at Pettneu, Arlberg, July 14, 1984 (WS)

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© 2007, Germany