ORIENT EXPRESS (continued)

Ferry service from piers next to the terminal would take passengers across Bosporus Strait to Haydarpa, the terminus of the Ottoman railways’ Asian lines.

The direct connection saved over 14 hours compared to the Varna route.

Because local time was not synchronised in Europe in those days , the trip took about 81 hours Eastbound and 77 hours in the opposite direction. The Austrians applied two times, those of Vienna and Budapest. The solution was simple and effective: the dining-car clock was kept to Paris time.

The train was officially renamed “Orient Express” in 1891.

From 1900 to 1902 the Paris coaches were joined by a Berlin-Constantinople sleeper at Budapest.
The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended.
They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express, and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route.

The Versailles Treaty contained a clause obliging Austria to accept this train formally, but Austria only allowed international services to pass through Austrian territory (which included Trieste at the time) if they ran via Vienna. The Simplon Orient Express soon became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.

The 1930s saw the zenith of Orient Express services, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zurich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeping coaches running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens.

In this era, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.

The start of the Second World War in 1939 again interrupted the service, which did not resume until 1945. During the war, the German Mitropa company ran some services on the route through the Balkans, Der  Balkanzug,  but partisans frequently sabotaged the track, so forcing this service to stop.

After the war had ended, normal services resumed except on the Athens leg, where the closure of the border between Yugoslavia and Greece prevented services running.
That border re-opened in 1951, but the closure of the Bulgaria-Turkey border between 1951 and 1952 prevented services running to Istanbul. As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe, the service continued to run, but the Warszaw-Pact nations gradually replaced the Wagons-Lits cars by coaches ran by their own railway services.
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