International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

Bucureşti: the Paris of the Balkans

The capital of Romania, Bucureşti, was an important destination for passengers from North West Europe and Central Europe.  It grew in population from 292,000 in 1913 to 2,300,000 in 2000. It had been the main target of the Orient Express in 1883 and such was its attraction that this connection survived for 108 years. The following table shows the continuity of service from the west to Bucureşti

Bucureşti was also served by three further main routes - by the Balt Orient spine route which brought traffic from Berlin and Praha via Budapest and the Berlin-Bucureşti spine route from Berlin through Kraków and Lviv which also brought initial traffic from Warszawa. Furthermore, Bucureşti received trains from Moskva but mainly after the Second World War. Services south of Bucureşti were comparatively slow to develop.

The Simplon Orient’s contribution was a set of through cars detached at Vinkovci which were forwarded via Subotica, Timişoara and Turnu Severin to Bucureşti. When the Simplon Orient Express was resumed after the Second World War, the Bucureşti section was discontinued. From 1967 to 1979 an ordinary train ran from Zagreb to Bucureşti as the Bucharest Express, sometimes having coaches to and from Rijeka.


Another route could be used between 1920 and 1939 using the Berlin-Bucureşti spine. The Nord Express started in Paris and joined with a train from Ostend to Bucureşti at Liège. By changing cars in the same train, a through journey was assured. This covered the second longest distance between Paris and Bucureşti whereas the Orient route took a competitive 40 hours. The transit time by the Orient Express when it was curtailed in 1990 was 36 hrs Paris to Bucureşti. The following table shows the distances from Paris to Bucureşti by the main routes.

Bucuresti: Services 1937/62 Introducing the Orient routes

A6: Bucuresti as a hub


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