Ah, trains! They are a common childhood obsession which often lasts till the adult years. There is something about trains, especially the old-style steam locomotives, that captures the imagination of many. In a world obsessed about speed, many still aspire to experience the romance and sophistication of slowly traversing the countryside in an old-style coach being pulled along by a gently chugging engine.
Some of history’s most iconic locomotives and their routes have become mainstays of popular culture. Two locomotives in particular, the Orient Express and the Jacobite, continue to inspire mystery and magic far beyond the limits of their tracks.
THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Artists have waxed lyrical about the Orient Express for more than a century now. It has appeared in literature, film, television, music, and even video games. Its most famous iteration is in the scene of the crime for Agatha Christie’s 1934 book, Murder on the Orient Express. As a moving, enclosed vehicle, the train provides the perfect controlled setting for a delicious murder mystery – everyone on board is a suspect! With its most recent movie adaptation released in 2017, the locomotive continues to be a household name.
The Orient Express made its inaugural journey in 1883. Its stylish and luxurious carriages set the locomotive apart from regular trains which favoured more practical furnishings. The Orient Express was decorated like a five-star hotel complete with overnight sleeper suites and a first-class restaurant. It quickly won over an exclusive clientele and became synonymous with luxury travel.
The route run by this famous train has changed quite dramatically over the years. Its first journey took passengers from Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey. However due to geographical factors, passengers had to be ferried across the Black Sea on the last leg of their journey. With the opening of Switzerland’s Simplon Tunnel in 1919, the train changed its route to enable it to make a continuous journey from one end of continental Europe to the other. This route was however cut back and limited to friendly territories during World War II. Later, the increasing popularity of trans-continental flights eventually limited the route to a short stretch between Strasbourg, France and Vienna, Austria. The original train made its last great journey in December 2009.
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