International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

8 January 1946, the Simplon Orient Express was revived in Western Europe as a train from Paris to Venezia and Roma. Attempts to reinstate the train in South East Europe were frustrated by the new political alignment of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria together with war around the Bulgarian/Greek/Turkish boundaries.

7 October 1946, the train was extended thrice weekly from Venezia to Beograd.

30 April 1947 Further extension of the service from Beograd to Istanbul eventually arrived  running three days per week

January 1948 The Simplon Orient Express resumed through working from Svilengrad to Istanbul crossing the Greek/Turkish border in daylight under guard.

 February 1948. The Sofia-Istanbul section  was again suspended due to guerilla activity on the Greek/Bulgarian border.

1 September 1948 the Express resumed through running between Sofia-Istanbul.

October 1950 a frontier dispute between Bulgaria and Turkey closed that frontier and the Simplon Orient Express terminated at Svilengrad.


April 1951, Istanbul cars were re-routed via Alexandrupoli and this route stayed in force until 1953 .

1962-Simplon Orient Express discontinued and superceded by the Direct Orient Express.

1976 The Paris-Athenai cars were withdrawn.

9 May 1977. Direct Orient Express discontinued

Restarting the Simplon Orient



Simplon Orient Express


Reason for its downfall

• Political opposition to the service in the Balkans

• Bloated run times

• Inferior rolling stock.

• Air competition

• See link above to display comparative run times during the  

   20th Century.

Wien Beograd trains avoid Hungary

 In 1955  the Balkan Express was introduced via Maribor to Zagreb and then onto Beograd. This avoided crossing Hungary then in the Soviet bloc. By 1960 this train was cut back to Zagreb. By 1992, this traffic ceased because of the Yugoslav conflict. A curious feature of the Balkan Express was that it carried through coaches from Grossenbrode on the German- Danish frontier to Athenai.

Simplon Express emerges

After the discontinuation of the SOE in 1962, a service called the Simplon Express still connected Paris with Beograd and this ran until 1992. At this time, the name Simplon Express was transferred to a curious service linking Geneva Airport with Vinkovci on the Croat-Serbian border but this ceased in 2000.

Simplon Orient Express timetables Orient routes

A1-6 Simplon Orient

j1946 - 99

1946 - 99

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