French Pullman Orient-Express visits London

By Keith Fender

THE ‘Pullman Orient-Express’ – a set of 1920s-built Pullman cars, preserved and maintained in operational condition in France by national operator SNCF – made a surprise visit to London on November 2.

The train was in London to promote the new film Murder on the Orient-Express, starring Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.

The Pullman Orient Express in platform 10 at St Pancras International on November 2. Insets: The builder’s plate on carriage No. 2869 and the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits crest.

The latest film version is based upon the book by Agatha Christie, and had its premiere at the Albert Hall in London that evening.

The coaches of the ‘Orient-Express’, most of which are designated as protected ‘national monuments’ in France, are occasionally used for charter and filming work, although SNCF and French hotel chain Accor have recently announced plans to offer more regular excursions.

The sumptuous interior of restaurant car No. 2869 Anatolie, built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company. ALL PICTURES: KEITH FENDER

Some of the vehicles in the ‘Pullman Orient-Express’ visiting St Pancras used to operate the famed ‘Orient-Express’ service before the Second World War.

The original ‘Orient-Express’ train operated as a Pullman service between Paris and Istanbul between the 1880s and 1977; after that a regular international train between Paris and Vienna/Bucharest used the name for two more decades before ceasing altogether.

Agatha Christie travelled on the train in 1928, and this is said to have provided the inspiration for her book published in 1934, which has been made into a movie twice since, the first being in 1974.

Read more in the December issue of The RM – on sale now!

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