The Original Orient Express Could Soon Restart Operations in Paris

May 20, 2019

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 picture taken on May 13, 2019 shows the interior of a carriage in a restored carriage of an Orient Express train displayed at the Gare de l'Est train station in Paris. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

This picture taken on May 13, 2019 shows the interior of a restored carriage of an Orient Express train displayed at the Gare de l'Est train station in Paris. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

“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.

This picture taken on May 13, 2019 shows the interior of a newly-restored carriage of an Orient Express train displayed at the Gare de l'Est train station in Paris. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.