The Orient Express was a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when travelling was still rough and dangerous.
The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul), the original endpoints of the timetabled service. Throughout the years the route changed, Istanbul was dropped in favour of Bucharest, then Budapest and then Vienna.
On 14 December 2009, the Orient Express ceased to operate and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines.
In its place is, The Venice-Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) train which is a private luxury train service from London to Venice and other European cities. Fares on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express are high as the service is intended not as an ordinary rail service, but as a leisure event with five-star dining included.
The train was established in 1982 by James Sherwood of Kentucky, USA. In 1977 he had bought two original carriages at an auction when the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits withdrew from the Orient Express service, passing the service on to the national railways of France, Germany, and Austria. Over the next few years, Sherwood spent a total of US$16 million purchasing 35 sleeper, restaurant and Pullman carriages. On 25 May 1982, the first London–Venice run was made.