In the late 1800s, train travel across Europe was a messy affair. At each national border, passengers got off one train, walked across the border, and climbed aboard another. Like George Pullman in the United States, Belgian George Nagelmackers dreamed of something better: a rolling hotel in which travelers could sleep, eat, and relax from one end of their journey to the other. In 1883, the Orient Express made the dream a reality: a single train from Paris to Romania (and within a few years, from Paris to Istanbul), with rolling stock supplied by Nagelmackers' Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et Grandes Express Europeens ("wagon-lit" being French for sleeping car). Only the locomotives were changed as the Orient Express rolled across no less than seven national borders on its three-day journey.
From 1889 to 1977, with interruptions for two world wars, the Orient Express ran from Gare de l'Est station in Paris to Sirkeci Terminal on the Golden Horn, the gateway to Asia. After the 12-mile-long Simplon Tunnel was opened under the Alps, a second, more southerly route was added in 1919: the Simplon Orient Express via Milan, Venice, and Trieste. The train, of course, got caught up in the politics of the regions through which it ran and became a setting for international intrigue, mystery, and romance-more so in fiction than in fact. The Orient Express' screen credits include the James Bond film From Russia With Love and, most famously, movie and print versions of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express. The long, dark passage through the Simplon Tunnel, of course, has been a favorite setting for nefarious events.
Add a touch of color, mystery, and intrigue (but hopefully not murder) to your own railroad with our first-ever M.T.H. model of a European prototype. This engine replicates the French Pacific (2-3-1E wheel arrangement in French parlance, which counts axles rather than wheels) that hauled the Orient Express from Paris to the French border in the period between the world wars. The sound set in this fully featured Premier model includes a European whistle and station announcements in English and French.