Accor has announced that the Orient Express train will return in 2024 to coincide with the Paris Olympics.
A set of 17 carriages from the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express incarnation of the train, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, are being restored by architect Maxime d’Angeac with support from hotel group Accor and Orient Express.
The cars were inaugurated in the early 1980s by Swiss tour operator and businessman Albert Glatt, and ran between Zurich and Istanbul. Accor says that the train also made “the longest journey ever” between Paris and Tokyo in 1988 under the name of Extrême-Orient-Express but then disappeared.
In 2015 researcher Arthur Mettetal conducted a worldwide inventory of the Orient Express for the SNCF, and discovered the carriages in Poland. The carriages had been left in the open-air for about ten years, but Mettetal said that the cars were “surprisingly well-preserved”, with interiors including the same Morrison and Nelson marquetry and Lalique panels.
The discovery was followed by two years of negotiations between Orient Express and the owner of the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, and the cars were brought to France in 2018.
The service will include 12 sleeping cars, one restaurant, three lounges and one van. Accor has said that it is not yet releasing itineraries for the service, but it has been reported that the train will run between Istanbul and Paris.
According to an Instagram post by Orient Express, the interiors will be revealed from October.
Architect Maxime D’Angeac, who will be leading the restoration, says:
“The rebirth of the Orient Express is a technological challenge, meeting scientific, artistic and technical criteria, where the entire project has been conceived as a work of art. From the nuts and bolts stamped with Orient Express’ signature to the innovative concept of the suites, an exact science of detail will allow travelers to rediscover the great splendor of the Orient Express.
“Entrusted to the best artisans and decorators specializing in their unique fields, this embassy of French luxury will unveil a setting of absolute refinement, faithful to the art of tailoring. It will be an incomparable train travel experience, imagined through a contemporary vision of comfort and extreme luxury.”
The Orient Express launched in 1883 and ran services until 2009, when it stopped operations. Accor acquired a 50 per cent stake in the Orient Express name in 2017, which was formerly fully-owned by the SNCF Group.
Last year Accor announced plans for the Orient Express La Dolce Vita to welcome its first passengers in 2023, with six trains set to travel across 14 regions in Italy, with three international stopovers linking Rome to Paris, Istanbul and Split.
The Orient Express brand will also launch its first hotels in 2024, with locations in Rome, Venice and Riyadh.
Note that this is separate to the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express brand which is owned by Belmond.