The famous luxury train Orient Express also crosses Romania during its journey from Paris to Istanbul, offering passengers unique experiences. However, the train’s journey in Romania also puts a spotlight on the bad shape of the local railway infrastructure.
This year, the luxury train's locomotive, provided by the Romanian railways company CFR, broke while it was crossing the country and the many speed restrictions due to work on the railway further delayed it.
The luxury train entered Romania in the last minutes of August 26, only several minutes behind schedule, but reached Bucharest two and a half hours later than its official arrival time. The train left the country on Tuesday, August 28, continuing its route to Istanbul. It will cross Romania once again when it will return from Istanbul, on September 1-2.
Although the Orient Express is not a high-speed train, so that the passengers can enjoy the scenery of the countries they are passing through, in Romania the train experienced average speeds close to those the train reached during its first journey 135 years ago, as well as long, unscheduled stops, local Hotnews.ro reported.
The 650-km trip between Curtici and Bucharest lasted 20 hours, including the traditional stop of two hours and a half in Sinaia, where the tourists usually go to see the Peles Castle. However, there were also many unscheduled stops, such as the one of nearly one hour and a half in Teius, and the one of almost one hour in Vanatori, where the locomotive was changed.
Moreover, the train had to travel at very low speeds due to the ongoing work on Corridor IV, with average hourly speeds of less than 50 km per hour. The numerous speed restrictions between Brasov and Sighisoara also forced the train to run at an average speed of 40 km per hour.
On Tuesday morning, the Orient Express left the Baneasa station with a small delay, and traveled the 51 km to Videle in 85 minutes, according to Hotnews.ro. This day’s trip also meant passing through the Bucharest-Giurgiu section, where the infrastructure has also been neglected. For example, the Gradistea bridge, which collapsed in 2005, was never rebuilt and trains have to take a 50-km detour.
The once-a-year, week-long luxury journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express allows passengers to experience several countries in the same elegant style as during the golden years of European railway travel.
Irina Marica, [email protected]