trains in 20th Century Europe
Fig 1: Balkan frontiers in 1989
Orient route changes
Decline of the
Simplon Orient route
Breaking the monopoly
Fig 1 shows the principal trunk routes in South Eastern Europe extant in 1989. The morphology of the network had changed little since 1945. Up to 1989 there were two main axes for passenger and freight traffic – to/from Russia and connections within the satellite states of which the Berlin-
The war inhibited trains heading from Budapest to Beograd and then to Sofia and Istanbul. An altenative route was found which bypassed Beograd. Accordingly a through train called the Trans Balkan Express was started in 2000 linking Budapest with Bucureşti, Sofia, Thessaloniki and Istanbul.
The Orient route was disrupted by the destruction of the Žeželj bridge at Novi Sad between Beograd and Budapest which is being rebuilt.
The Yugoslav conflict brought lasting disruption to this route such that freight and international passenger traffic were diverted via the former Orient Express spine – Budapest-
The Simplon Orient ceased to function in 1992. Its new role was to link the new capitals – Ljubljana, Zagreb and Sarajevo with Beograd. Traffic across the Slovene-
South of Beograd, access to Greece was suspended during the war and then suspended again from 2011 for financial reasons. The Greek-
With the closure of the Italo-
Historically rail access to the Balkans was controlled by the Austro Hungarian Empire. The Yugoslav conflict resulted in this traffic being rerouted through Bucureşti Thus traffic for Turkey and Greece could avoid Yugoslavia altogether.
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