The Sad End of the Orient Express

On December 12, 2009, EuroNight train number 469 Orient Express left Strasbourg on its final overnight run to Vienna, and on 13 December the celebrated name Orient Express disappeared forever from the official European timetables after 126 years. That train was the true descendant of that first 1883 Express d’Orient and it officially carried the name Orient Express. You can trace its evolution from timetable to timetable, year to year from 1883 to 2009. On its last run, the Orient Express had evolved into an Austrian Railways EuroNight train, with one Austrian Railways air-conditioned sleeping-car, two modern air-conditioned couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and an Austrian seats car.

The Orient Express was cut back to start in Strasbourg rather than Paris in June 2007 when the Paris-Strasbourg high-speed TGV line opened, so that it could no longer be attached to a French domestic train between Paris & Strasbourg. Although a TGV connection from Paris was provided, the writing was on the wall for this train when it stopped directly linking the French and Austrian capitals. It had lost its Paris-Budapest Hungarian couchette car and Paris-Bucharest Romanian sleeping-car in June 2001, and it hadn’t carried any through cars for Istanbul since the 1960s.

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