International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

A1-5 Simplon Orient

1918-39

A new route to the Balkans

 Up to 1918, the Central powers monopolised access to the Balkans and the Allies wished to abolish it as part of the peace settlement. The opening of the Simplon Tunnel in 1906 gave them their opportunity.


  A new route opened up from Paris to Lausanne and Milano turning east there to Trieste and what became Yugoslavia. This Simplon Orient route joined the Orient route at Beograd.


 Contrary to the wishes of the Allies, the Bucureşti portion of the train had to cross Hungarian soil from Subotica to Szeged to join the old Szeged-Timişoara route of the 1914 Orient Express. This situation was not remedied until the Tisza river was bridged at Senta in spring 1921 when the transfer from Romania to Yugoslavia could be made directly avoiding Hungarian territory See above link-Szeged



 The main express  on this spine was the Simplon Orient which started on 11 April 1919 from Paris to Istanbul and Bucureşti, being extended to Athenai in February 1920. Between 1920 and 1939, this route provided the fastest journey time between Paris and Athenai/Istanbul.


 The Simplon Orient route also provided through workings between Beograd and Roma via Trieste and Bologna. Occasionally, the same train offered direct connections to the French Riviera, detached at Trieste and worked through Milano and Genova. A further feature of this connection to the French Riviera was that it sported a direct portion to and from Bucureşti via Vinkovci. Additionally, The Bucureşti-Vinkovci route was used by through trains from Bucureşti to Split and Nice running summer only. A further working to Split was routed through Kraków and Wien.


Simplon Orient services begin

 Whilst the Simplon Orient Express carried sleeping and restaurant cars,  the increasing demand for second and third class accommodation created a number of trains from Paris bound for Trieste and destinations east. Sometimes one of them carried the name Direct Orient but this wasn't a consistent feature. These trains carried interesting consists as shown in this table.


Paris-Balkan trains

Year

Dept

Destination


1926

11:45

Trieste


1926

20:35

Istanbul,

Athenai

Bucaresti

Simplon Orient

Express

1926

20:10

Trieste

Paris-Trieste, Milano-

Beograd, Trieste-

Bucaresti

1939

16:20

Beograd

Bucaresti

Paris-Bucaresti,

Beograd, Milano-

Sophia

1939

22:50

Istanbul,

Athenai,

Bucaresti

Simplon Orient

Express

1939

22:55

Istanbul

Direct Orient Paris-

Budapest, Paris-

Istanbul,

(Roma)-Trieste-

Budapest, (Roma)-

Triest-Beograd

Simplon Orient to Bucureşti

-Proposed diversion

Proposals were made in 1938 to reroute the Bucureşti portion of the Simplon Orient Express through Beograd to Vršac and Timişoara. This move would have benefited travellers from Beograd to Bucureşti by saving 190 km on the route via Subotica. However, this advantage dwindled to a mere 30 km for traffic originating from Western Europe.


Orient routes

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