Made famous by Agatha Christie’s 1930s novel Murder on the Orient Express, the last true Orient Express traveled from Paris to Istanbul in 1977.
Thirteen carriages, including nine sleeping cars and four saloons, that had once been part of the Orient Express were found in a railway yard on the border between Poland and Belarus.
The Orient Express brand name was acquired by French rail operator SNCF, which has now, at huge expense, restored original carriages and is mulling a relaunch of the service.
“To restore them, we went into our archives to find the original plans or samples of tissues and so forth,” says Guillaume de Saint Lager, the executive director of Orient Express. “We used exceptional experts.”
SNCF this week exhibited seven of the carriages at the Gare de l’Est station in Paris – returned to their original splendour after seven years of restoration.
“It is clearly a big investment, some €14 million (US$15.6 million), but it is an investment in railway heritage,” says Pepy. “They are a shop window for the expertise of the SNCF in preserving heritage.”
“Our aim is to have the Orient Express on the rails all around Europe,” says Pepy. But whether a relaunched train will again steam between Paris and Istanbul remains to be seen.
“We need to look at the state of the carriages and see under what conditions they could travel again, and how they could be brought in line with the security specifications that exist in Europe,” Pepy says.
“We are doing the technical work now and hope we can have a positive decision this summer.”
Source: SouthChina Morning Post