The Orient Express Deluxe Train
The grandiose idea of Georges Nagelmackers, introducing deluxe sleeping car trains on the European continent, had its beginning with the establishment of his "Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits" (CIWL) on December 4, 1876 in Brussels. The company is still in existence today. With the growing rail network in the direction of the Balkans Nagelmackers developed plans for a train assembled entirely from CIWL cars from the Channel harbors to the Balkan States and the end destination of Constantinople (the present day Istanbul) that at time could still not be reached by rail.
A legend finally began on June 5, 1883 in Paris with the first "Express d'Orient". Merely a dining car, two sleeping cars, and two baggage cars made up the first "Orient Express" that started to write transportation history on that memorable afternoon in the Gare de l´Est station. Yet, the trip to the Balkans was still quite exhausting because passengers had to do part of the route by boat or postal coach. The Orient Express did not reach its end destination of Constantinople until August 12, 1888 via Budapest, Belgrade, and Sofia. This deluxe train quickly developed into a total success and it is no wonder that the name "Orient Express" became highly styled as a symbol full of mystique, magic, desires, and wanderlust. Over the course of the years, a legend formed from the train of diplomats, adventurers, agents, profiteers, "femmes fatales" as well as crowned and uncrowned heads of state that played a main role in countless books, spy histories, and films.
Motivated by the success of the Orient Express, the CIWL soon introduced other deluxe trains to interesting destinations in all of Europe. In 1900, it thus introduced the Karlsbad Express, a sleeping car train running during the summer season from Paris to the world famous resort of in Karlsbad, today Karlovy Vary, which still belonged then to Austria. This train run on the route Paris – Karlsruhe – Heilbronn – Schwäbisch Hall – Nürnberg – Karlsbad. With the start of World War I, the CIWL deluxe trains had to be halted. The Orient Express did not use its classic route through Southern Germany until 1921. It was now combined with the "Paris-Karlsbad-Prag-Express" (L105/106) to and from Stuttgart. This branch train of the "Orient Express" with a total of seven cars to and from Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) and Prague (Praha) usually ran only in the summer via Nürnberg, Marktredwitz, and Eger (Cheb) to Czechoslovakia. It was the outbreak of World War II that forced change on the job of the CIWL deluxe trains.