End of an era as Orient Express scraps UK leg

By Lisa James
17/04/2023
Home » End of an era as Orient Express scraps UK leg

The UK leg of the Orient Express is to be scrapped over concerns about longer waits to cross the Channel due to Brexit checks.

Belmond, which runs the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) has dropped the London-to-Folkestone leg, where passengers embark Art Deco carriages on the British Pullman train at London Victoria station and travel to the Channel, where they board coaches to cross to France to join the VSOE (pictured).

The Guardian reports Belmond said it decided to ditch the service before enhanced border controls come into force.

A Belmond spokesperson said: ““We’re adjusting operations in 2024 ahead of enhanced passport and border controls.

“We want to avoid any risk of travel disruption for our guests – delays and missing train connections – and provide the highest level of service, as seamless and relaxed as possible.”

The Guardian said: “When the Orient Express began operating in the 19th century, passports were optional – the only paperwork required by British travellers was a copy of the Thomas Cook Continental Timetable.

“But Brexit and 21st-century biometric checks are killing off the romance of crossing borders for modern passengers looking for the nostalgia of the luxury train journey that inspired Agatha Christie and Hollywood.”

The newspaper quoted Mark Smith, founder of the train travel site The Man in Seat 61 saying: “The British Pullman was the hors d’oeuvre – it set you up with smoked salmon and champagne on the way from London to Folkestone on the traditional boat-train route that passengers heading to the Orient Express would have used in the 1930s. Joining the continental train at Calais in time to get dressed for dinner was wonderful.”

Passengers from London will be able to take the modern high-speed Eurostar to Paris and join the VSOE there, but ‘it’s not the same’, The Man in Seat 61 added.

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