Strasbourg to Vienna cut marks end of the line

width=250The last surviving leg of the original Orient Express rail route from Paris to Istanbul is to end in December.

The overnight service between Strasbourg and Vienna will be withdrawn on 12 December. The last train will depart from the French city on the evening of 11 December, arriving in the Austrian capital at 8.59 the following morning.

The Orient Express was inaugurated as a route (it has never been served by a specific train or rolling stock) back in 1883 when the first passengers boarded from Paris to chug to Giurgiu in Romania, and on to what was then known as Constantinople by a combination of ferry, train and steamer. The line was completed in 1889.

Over time the route changed in line with border disputes, war and track improvements, but ran until 1977 when it was cut short at Budapest. In 2001, it was further abridged, terminating in Vienna; after the new high-speed Paris to Strasbourg service was introduced in 2007, the overnight Strasbourg-Vienna train was the last remaining sector from the original 19th century route.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, writing in his weekly column, bemoaned the fact that the service that provided intrigue and inspiration for generations of travellers is to be axed with barely a whimper.

However, the privately owned Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a luxury train using 1920s rolling stock, will continue to run from London to Venice.