International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

B4 Berlin-Bucureşti

from 1946

After 1946, the new political realities of this part of Europe changed service patterns on this route considerably. Thereafter, it never resumed through end to end links as before. Rather, the route was used in sections for different services.

Germany was partitioned between the western and Soviet spheres of influence and East Berlin became the capital of the Soviet sector.  Germany lost a sizeable chunk of its eastern territory to Poland which moved bodily westwards. Thus the main route before 1939 to Wien and Budapest via Wrocław had passed into Polish sovereignty and ceased to be used as an international route to those destinations. Berlin’s links with Budapest and Bucureşti were moved to the Balt Orient spine.

At the western end of this route, the former line from Berlin to Wrocław terminated at the Polish frontier at Gubin and what traffic there was between Berlin and southern Poland was diverted to the Cottbus/Görlitz route. Initially, a through service from East Berlin to Katowice was introduced, later extended to Kraków. The Opole-Bohumin section of the Berlin-Wien/Budapest route before 1939 was not revived until May 1992 when a Szczecin-Budapest train was routed this way instead of through Petrovice. This proved to be short lived.

The former Berlin-Bucureşti route now lay across Russia from Medyka in Poland to Vadul Siret in Romania a distance of 383km over broad gauge tracks. At Medyka east of Przemyśl a change of gauge took place to the Russian 1.524m. This gauge reverted to 1.435m at Vadul Siret on the Romanian border. The Russian section had been re-laid to Russian gauge in the latter stages of the Second World War which meant changing trains at each of the two borders on surviving services. This had seen two expresses between Warszawa and Bucureşti before the Second World War but this service was slow to resume.  

International services did not resume through Medyka until 1960 when the Karpati Express was introduced from Warszawa to Bucureşti via Przeworsk. Prior to this, from 1948, Warszawa-Bucureşti passengers could use the Balt Orient route as an alternative to that via Przeworsk. Services from Bucureşti to Wien and Praha via Lviv were likewise diverted to other routes.

In 1989 Medyka saw another cross border working from Wrocław and Legnica to Kyiv. Whilst the Medyka-Lviv line was lightly loaded new traffic from Vilnius and Minsk joined the Berlin-Bucureşti route at Lviv.

Warszawa to Bucuresti - services

In 1920 a link was constructed from Lublin to Przeworsk enabling Warszawa to send direct trains to Bucureşti using the Berlin-Bucureşti route. This had seen two expresses between Warszawa and Bucureşti which  lasted until 1939. From 1946 up to 1960, intending  passengers had to use the only service which connected Warszawa and Bucuresti -the Balt Orient Express. This arrangmen changed in 1960 when an express, the Karpati, was restored to the Berlin-Bucureşti route.

Passengers had to change trains at Przemysl and at the Romanian border town of Vicsani due to the gauge change. This journey would take 30+hours to cover the 1300 kms. Meanwhile, the Balt Orient service incurred an additional six hours over an increased distance of 377 kms. The Karpati Express survived along this route until the 1980s when it was diverted through Kraków and Košice to the Romanian border. This was  in addition to the Balt Orient service.

Berlin-Bucuresti routes

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