The original Orient Express made its first trip in 1883 connecting Paris to the then distant and exotic destination of Istanbul, Türkiye. Synonymous with luxury and mystery, the Orient Express was the ultimate symbol of comfortable travel, at least until it ended operations in 1977, to be re-launched this year.
In 1977, American businessman James Sherwood bought two of the original Orient Express’ carriages at an auction. Over the following years he managed to acquire as many as 35 sleeper, restaurant and Pullman cars and, in 1982, established the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) service, running the London – Paris – Milan – Venice (and return) route via the Simplon Tunnel.
The VSOE has been at the forefront of luxury travel for over forty years. The legendary train is made up of 17 restored carriages from various luxury train services, including carriages from the 1920s and 1930s golden age of travel. Since its inaugural service in 1982, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has continued to perpetuate the legendary art of travel, balancing the heritage of its beautifully restored carriages with contemporary spirit through creative culinary offerings.
Unfortunately for UK residents however, Belmond, the company who currently operates the service, has decided to scrap the isle’s leg of the journey in what The Independent calls “another Brexit casualty“. According to the news outlet, the additional border checks brought on by Brexit create too much uncertainty over waiting times and risk ruining the itinerary for the rest of Europe.
We are worried that the enhanced checks of all passports will introduce risks to our guest’s journeys.Belmond spokesperson told The Independent
“The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has always been about providing exceptional guest journeys and has always successfully crossed Europe, visiting several European countries with standard gauge railway. This means careful coordination of our timetable with National Railways, and this requires almost 24 months of advance planning”, spokesperson for Belmond told The Independent.
Indeed, since the UK left the European Union, chaos has been looming around the points of crossing over to the continent, with kilometres long queues forming at Folkestone and the nearby Port of Dover where full passport checks have to be carried out. With even more uncertainty over when or how the long awaited EU Entry/Exit system will be implemented, having faced multiple delays, Belmond simply cannot take the chances.
Belmond still invites people from the UK to enjoy the lavish experience of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, just take a regular Eurostar from London to Paris and then embark the VSOE on an overnight journey to Venice to “travel in style across the European landscape before arriving in the City of Water”.