International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

Wien to the Orient after 1946

The Orient route from Budapest south served new masters after 1946. To this end the new Iron Curtain blocked much of the traffic on the former Orient route. The Orient and Arlberg Orient trains now ended in Bucureşti and no longer served Beograd and the south. Viennese passengers for Beograd now had to change trains in Budapest and were faced with a long wait.

Such trains as remained on the Orient route south of Budapest to Beograd and beyond were driven by traffic on the Balt Orient spine from Berlin to Sofia through Budapest. This spine connected the Soviet bloc capital cities together from the Baltic Sea to Sofia.  Politically the rift between Soviet Russia and Yugoslavia in 1950 caused such traffic to be diverted through Romania as part of the Balt-Orient Express.  This service was not restored until 1955.

From 1949, Hungary was part of the Soviet bloc and an alternative route was established linking Wien with Beograd, Athenai and Istanbul. This became known as the Balkan Express. The route taken from Wien ran via Spielfeld Strass and Zagreb to Beograd. This began life in 1954.

 By the 1960s, this train was curtailed to serve Zagreb only.  In 1962, through coaches were run from Hoek van Holland to Athenai in the Austria Express via Köln, München and Villach to Beograd and Athenai but these coaches had been discontinued by 1966.

By 1992, the Zagreb route was stopped, owing to the Yugoslav civil war and this was not revived. The service through Budapest to Beograd was resumed in 1992. At different times both routes conveyed through cars from Wien to Athenai and Istanbul. It is interesting to note that the 2007 transit times are only marginally less than the same route in 1914.

Berlin and Warszawa to the Orient

 In the 1930s Berlin had two through trains to South Eastern Europe which joined the Orient route at Budapest:-

• D148 Berlin to Athenai three times weekly via Praha, Bratislava, Budapest, Beograd, Thessaloniki.

• D33 Berlin to Istanbul four times weekly via Wrocław, Bohumin, Budapest, Beograd, Sofia, Istanbul.

 By 1939, Warszawa dispatched coaches to Beograd via Bohumin and Budapest on a summer only basis.

The Balt Orient route

 This was an important artery linking Berlin with Wien and Budapest via Dresden and Praha. It carried the D148 train up to the outbreak of war. After 1946 a through train – Balt Orient Express – commenced from the Baltic Coast and Warszawa to Budapest, Beograd, Bucureşti and Sofia. It gave a connection at Beograd for Athinai and at Sofia for Istanbul. Further details are provided in the Balt Orient route on this website.

The Berlin-Bucureşti route

This route served Bucureşti from Berlin via Kraków and Lviv as is described in more detail elsewhere on this website

(Kǿbenhavn)-Grossenbrode to the Orient


A curious feature of the Balkan Express in 1956 was that it carried passengers from Athenai to Grossenbrode in northern Germany on four days per week in the summer period. These through coaches were transferred to and from the Adria Express at Zagreb. The Adria Express connected Kǿbenhavn with Rijeka and Split summer only via Munchen and the Tauernbahn

A4: Other routes to the


Introducing the Orient routes

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