T o u r i s t S p e c i a l s
Special "Trans Sibirien Express" Khabarovsk - Munich, German diesel class 218, Soviet RIC sleepers, near Schirnding, Bavaria, July 12, 1985 (WS)
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Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express Paris – Hong Kong, Pacifics 01 and 01.5 of DR, Helmstadt, Sept. 1998 (Friedhelm Ernst)
Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express Paris - Hong Kong, Soviet class ChS4T, Belarus, Sept. 1988 (Friedhelm Ernst)
Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express with oldtimer engine EF58, presented at Tokyo Shinagawa, 1988 (Wolfram Veith)
CIWL cars and German war-type locomotive 52.3438 from Austria, on exhibition in Kyoto (official photo)
Already from 1971 a round trip for Western tourists from Berlin to Russia is reported. Timetables for Soviet tourist specials were prepared even for destinations like Rome or Athens. In 1979 Alby Glatt, owner of the Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express, arranged a "Trans-Sibirien" special with green Soviet RIC sleepers, followed in 1981 by a similar "Kaukasus-Krim-Express". He had the idea to use his own historic cars and in 1988 it became true when Fuji Television and Hitachi sponsored a sensational tour Paris - Hong Kong. The "Voiture-Restaurant presidentielle" 3354 was included, which already had served Khruzhchev during his state visit in France. Most cars of that Fuji Express were transferred to Japan, were trips on Cape gauge were undertaken. Change of bogies had been necessary at Brest, Zabaikalsk and for the transfer to Japan. Initially, the Japanese sponsors had asked James Sherwood, but his VSOE was busy on the Venice route. From 1994 the Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express undertook trips from Moscow under the label "Russian Orient Express". In 1991 started the state-owned dark-red "Rus" with refurbished cars and in April 1992 it connected with the Chinese special Pekin Orient Express for the first time at Alashankou on the Southern route. A "Holland-Japan Rail Cruise" in 2000 used the hired Wagons-Lits "Pullman Orient Express" for Paris - Prague - Warsaw, then the regular Polones to Moscow and the Russian Orient Express to Alashankou. Abercrombie & Kent offered tours with ex-government saloons, GW Travel Limited undertook steam tours and in 2004 the refurbished light-blue "Bolshoi Transsiberian Express" by Private Train Ltd appeared, consisting of 3 - 4 "Comfort" sleeping-cars, 2 "Classic" sleepers, 2 - 3 "VIP Deluxe" sleepers with en-suite facilities, a saloon from the "Red Tsars", a shower car, a diner and a piano-bar car. Alby Glatt's "Pullman Club" offers travels by that train from Moscow to Erlian, where the passengers change to the China Orient Express of Private Train Ltd with ex-government sleepers, shower car, diner and piano-bar.
In 1993 the Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express was acquired by Mittelthurgaubahn (MThB) of Switzerland. A portion of the consist remained in Switzerland, while from 1994 the true Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express with 13 ex-CIWL type cars under a combined ownership undertook trips from Moscow within Russia and to the Chinese border under the label "Russian Orient Express". Swiss MThB suffered insolvency in 2001, but the ex-NIOE consist continued running in Russia. An information via Wikipedia stated: “In early 2008 the NIOE, portion Russia traffic, returned from the Moscow depot and was stored safely at PKP” (in Poland). Though a Web site wakapedia.mobi/de/Orient-Express stated the end of the Russian service in October 2007, the Russian home page www.orientexpress.ru (of 2009) continued to offer this service together with two other tourist specials:
“Orient Express” (the ex-NIOE);
“Rus Express” (8 retro-styled ex-Soviet cars);
“President Express” (special cars, used before exclusively for government specials, e.g. by Khrushtchev, Brezhnev, Gromyko and Andropov).
In 2010 the homepage informed about renovation of the Orient Express cars and in 2011 it informed that it “will be reopen at the end of the carriages’ renovation. A historical Pullman car (type Cote d’Azur) and a sleeper ex CIWL were shown by photos, but also a diner “Russian style” of RZhD type. The train was described consisting of 8 sleeping-cars, 2 restaurant cars “Russian style”, 1 historical Pullman, a bar car, 2 diesel cars, shower car, staff cars and a club car.
In 1991 had started the state-owned dark-red "Rus" with refurbished Russian cars and in April 1992 it connected with the Chinese special Pekin Orient Express for the first time at Alashankou on the Southern route. A "Holland-Japan Rail Cruise" in 2000 used the hired Wagons-Lits "Pullman Orient Express" for Paris - Prague - Warsaw, then the regular Polones to Moscow and the Russian Orient Express to Alashankou. Abercrombie & Kent offered tours with ex-government saloons, GW Travel Limited undertook steam tours and in 2004 the refurbished light-blue "Bolshoi Transsiberian Express" by Private Train Ltd appeared, consisting of 3 - 4 "Comfort" sleeping-cars, 2 "Classic" sleepers, 2 - 3 "VIP Deluxe" sleepers with en-suite facilities, a saloon from the "Red Tsars", a shower car, a diner and a piano-bar car. Alby Glatt's "Pullman Club" offers travels by that train from Moscow to Erlian, where the passengers change to the China Orient Express of Private Train Ltd with ex-government sleepers, shower car, diner and piano-bar.
In China a regular day train for tourists did run from Beijing to Badaling on the Great Wall from 1978 to 1985. In 1987 appeared the green Pekin Orient Express with government sleepers of ordinary types for round-trips. It connected with the Russian specials at Erlian and with the Rus at Alashankou. In 1986 James Sherwood had intended to start an “Orient Express in China” for tours from Hong Kong to Beijing, but it was prevented. In 2006 Alby Glatt announced to revive the nostalgia of the legendary Shanghai Express on round trips within China, using the Private Train Ltd consist.
Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express
Paris Lyon - Reims - Cologne - Berlin - Moscow - Harbin - Beijing - Hong Kong, Sept. 07 - Sept. 26, 1988:
The train undertook trips in Japan, together with theater car Oni 23. Steam traction on some sections SNCF 230 G253, DR01 137 with 01 531, PKP Pt47 with Ty51, SZD P36-0064, KZD QJ 2991, JNR D51 498.
|Restaurant||KZD||Manzhouli - ...|
|Inspector's saloon ||SZD||Brest - Zbaikalsk|
|Staff sleeper ||SZD||Brest - Hong Kong|
|Van||SNCF||Paris - Brest|
|Sleeper YT ||Intraflug ||3909||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Generator van|| "||1286||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Restaurant|| "||3354||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Pullman || "||4158||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Pullman|| "||4149||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Salon-Bar|| "||4164||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3551||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3542||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3487||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Service car||CIWLT||4013||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX||Intraflug||3472||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3475||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3480||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper LX|| "||3537||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Sleeper YT|| "||3851||(Zurich) Paris - Hong Kong|
|Van||SZD||Brest - Hong Kong|
Colors: ex-CIWL cars blue, but Pullmans and Service car blue/cream, SZD and KZD cars green.
Brest - Moscow - Tikhookeanskaya - Vladivostok - Tavrichanka, for GW Travel Ltd., by RZD, departure May 26, 1996 (according to F. Lodge):
1 Salon (no. 7089, sleeper, kitchen)
3 Mest 18
1 Restoran (with bar)
2 Mest 18
1 Service (rebuilt, showers, laundry)
1 Mest 36 (for staff)
1 Refrigerator van
1 Mest 36 (for staff)
Steam traction announced: L, LV, P36, SU, Yed, Yem.
Pekin Orient Express
Beijing - Datong - Xian - Shanghai - Guilin - Guangzhou, Oct. 1987 (according to H.H. Frohn):
Colors: KZD cars green
|5 RW 19||(2-berth, en-suite toilets)|
|1 YW 18||(staff sleeper)|
Traction: Steam RM, diesel DF3, DF4 and other ones.
"Transsiberian Special" with TEP60-0184 in western Siberia, Sept. 1979 (Karl-Heinz Walraf)
"Transsiberian Special" Khabarovsk - Moscow by Alby Glatt, Soviet VL60-273 and RIC sleepers, Ilanskaya, Sept.19, 1979 (Karl-Heinz Walraf)
Special "Rus" Moscow - Tashkent - Druzhba - Alashankou, on the Kazakh mountain section hauled by a 2TE10L and a 2TE10M, near Aktogai, April 1992 (Waldemar Gruebl)
Pekin Orient Express, the Chinese special Alashankou - Beijing connecting with the Rus, hauled by a DF4 class diesel, near Turfan, April 1992 (Waldemar Gruebl)
Alashankou, passengers change from the "Rus" (left) to the "Pekin Orient Express", 26 April 1992 (Waldemar Gruebl)
For completely new tourist specials to Lhasa, sleepers with en-suite facilities, vista, club and dining-cars were ordered in 2005 at Bombardier Sifang. In 2008 upheavals started in Lhasa and Tibet was temporarily isolated for tourists. In late 2009 an advertisement announced the "Tangula" train de-luxe for trips Beijing - Lhasa, consisting of 12 sleepers for altogether 96 passengers, every car containing 4 suites with toilet and shower, 2 dining-cars and 1 Panorama car, operated by the Kempinsky Hotel group at a fare of 5,660 euro. In 2011 easytourchina.com informed that the Lhasa service was "postponed indefinitely, the operator announced". Another Tangula route should have been Beijing - Hong Kong, "cancelled for 2009". In 2011 it was stated via flickr.com: "The Tanggula Luxury Trains will not run as expected but are sure to be used by the Ministry of Railways, probably in conjunction with a third party."
There are tourist trains also in other countries. South Korea presented in 2008 a sensational de-Luxe - and it should have run to Beijing on occasion of the Olympics, crossing North Korea (information by Heiko Mueller and Matthias Schulze). Though this travel was prevented, the nice Rail Cruise Haerang train took up cruising in South Korea. An advertisement shows the blue train with 9 cars including a luxury sleeper with only three compartments, sleepers with four compartments, equipped with double-bed and own restroom, diner, sleeping-cars with eight twin-compartments and Pullman sleeper.
Rail Cruise Haerang tourist train (official advertisement)
© 2007, Germany