The Original Orient Express Could Soon Restart Operations in Paris
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The name alone evokes visions of overstuffed wingback chairs, rich mahogany trim and dining cars with crisp white tablecloths: the Orient Express.
The fabled train, which ran from Paris to Istanbul in its heyday at the turn of the 20th century and through the Art Deco age, is a shining example of the golden era of luxury rail journeys. But the passenger train, which has been featured in movies and books such as Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” might once again carry travelers on its iconic route across Europe and into Turkey.
French train company SNCF, which bought the Orient Express when it stopped operations in 1977, has begun refurbishing the cars of the original Orient Express and is weighing the possibility of restarting operations of the elegant train.
This week, SNCF is displaying several of the original train cars that have been refurbished at the Gare de L’Est train station in Paris, AFP reported. The cars feature glamorous interior design elements from the train’s bygone era, such as leather chairs, velvet curtains and polished wood tables. Three of the cars are dining cars that were on the original Orient Express, according to AFP, while the four other cars were used on the company’s other routes in Europe. The restorations began in 2011.
“To restore them, we went into our archives to find the original plans or samples of [fabrics] and so forth,” executive director of the Orient Express Guillaume de Saint Lager told AFP. “We used exceptional experts.” SNCF also found some of the train’s original cars in Poland and has spent €14 million ($15.6 million) refurbishing 16 cars, which includes at least nine sleeper cars and four saloons.
Related: The 7 Best Starter Credit Cards
Other trains, hotels and cruises have donned the name “Orient Express” in recent years. Those ventures, run largely under a travel company now called Belmond, were licensed with the vaunted Orient Express title under a now-defunct agreement with SNCF. None of them operated the original famous train.
Guillaume Pepy, CEO of SNCF, says the project is an, “investment in railway heritage.”
“Our aim is to have the Orient Express on the rails all around Europe,” Pepy told AFP. But that undertaking could be more complicated than it seems. “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 said.
The company expects to make a final decision about the train this summer.
All photos by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.