Rail Buzz: Orient Express Train to Resume Historic Paris-Istanbul Route

Here's some exciting news from the UK's rail scene: The Daily Mail is reporting that as of April, French rail operator SNCF will restore the Orient Express train to its timetable with new trips from Paris to Istanbul.

Orient Express laid claim to that route for nearly a century, from 1883 to 1977, and the journey (which inspired a certain Agatha Christie mystery) was the definition of old-fashioned luxury. (The train made its first round-trip tour in less than two weeks—an impressive feat in the 1880s.) As other modes of transportation took over, the final destination was cut to first Vienna, then Strasbourg, and then eliminated altogether in 2009.
The paper says that SNCF, which has owned the rail brand since 1977, wants to bring the full Paris-Istanbul route back to its former glory, and will launch a new Orient Express company in the spring. Moving in reverse from the line's decline, the first trips will reportedly only go from Paris to Vienna, but will eventually expand into Istanbul.

Good to know: This "resurrected" train should not be confused with the existing Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – a separate, private service specializing in luxury rail journeys and using the Orient Express name under license from SNCF.

No word yet on what kind of stock will be used for these jouneys—classic, contemporary or a mix of the two. According to SNCF, the original still exists as a seven-car train, and all of its carriages are listed as French historic monuments. If they still work, why not bring them back into use? Can you imagine rolling into Istanbul in a train like this?

Photos courtesy of SNCF