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Central and Eastern Europe

Europe Travel Info

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express or VSOE is the name of a private railway company operating luxury train services across Europe. In 1977 James B. Sherwood purchased two of the original carriages at auction following the end of the Orient Express service. During the next few years, he spent a total of $16 million purchasing 35 sleeper, restaurant and Pullman carriages. He founded the company in 1982 and on 25 May 1982, the first London to Venice trip was made.

The continental carriages have always been identified by numbers - these inconspicuous numbers however, conceal a thick plot of history and intrigue.

Sleeping Car 3309 for example, was part of the service, which in 1929 was stuck in a snow drift for 10 days, sixty miles outside Istanbul, along with a full complement of passengers who survived only with the assistance of nearby Turkish villagers. Sleeping Car 3425 was a part of the Orient-Express service used by King Carol of Romania. Some Orient-Express carriages also saw active service during the Second World War, either because they were taken over by the German Army or were being used by the US Transportation Corps.


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