The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

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In mid April 2013, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) came to Sweden for the first time. Some of the carriages have visited Sweden before, but then in other companies services. Also, CIWL sleeping cars went to Sweden in international trains before. Seldom has a train ride been follwed by such amount of media and enthusiast interest! This arrangement was internally prepared half a year before at SJ AB, and as Safety Co-ordiantor (Trafiksäkerhetssamordnare, TSS), I participated in the project developing special routines and rules for the SJ personnel working on the VSOE. I'm still pracising as train driver, so of course (sic!), I told the staff planners that I could drive the train on a part of the route, if it suited them, which it luckily did! Hence, I drove the VSOE on the first strech from Stockholm to Hallsberg on the 12 April 2013. The weather was better on the way up the day before.

I left my office at around 15 o'clock and went to the depot in Hagalund, north of Stockholm. Two of the three remaining Rc6-locos in matching dark-blue livery were rostered for the VSOE. 1409 was leading in both directions, with 1340 in multiple mode.

The train sood inside at platform 11 in the shed. This is the Restaurant Car 4110 Etoile du Nord, build 1926 in England. Each car has its own history presented on the VSOE web site.

All cars have been restored into an extraordinary condition, in some cases you might call it a rebuild, rather than a revision. A huge amount of working hours have been spend on the interior, like this intarsia in the Restaurant Car 4110 Etoile du Nord.

Restaurant Car 4141 Côte d'Azur, build in 1929.

Inside the beautiful Restaurant Car 4141 Côte d'Azur, with interior details designed by René Laquile.

In an interview, I was asked if SJ now would fit their restaurant and buffet cars with white tablecloths. I couldn't answer that question, but this should be inspiring enough, shouldn't it?

The Restaurant Car 4095 l'Oriental in the yard at the Hagalund depot.

The interior in the Restaurant Car 4095 l'Oriental.

The Bar Car 3674, originally build in 1931 as a restaurant car.

Inside the Bar Car 3674.

One of the corridors, a compartment and one of the gangways between the cars.

One of the elegant toilet and washing facilities.

The carriages belonged originally to the International Sleeping-Car Company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Europénnes (CIWL). They are registred as privately owned carriages [P] in France (87) and VSOE has its own Vehicle Keeper Marking (VKM).

The RIC-table shows in which countires and on which railways the carriages are allowed to run.'S' for Sweden is recently attached. RIC stands for Regolamento Internazionale delle Carrozze, the international agreement (dated back to 1922) on the use of passenger cars in international railway traffic.

Half an hour before the scheduled departure from the depot in Hagalund, I pulled out the train to the yard, enabling the staff to lit fire in the heaters, as well as the kitchen staff to prepare the dinner.

The Slleping Car 3473 in the yard at the Hagalund depot on the 12 April 2013. This carriage, as well as the rest of the sleeping-cars, is of the CIWL LX class, which was (and still is) a bit more comfortably than the S class, which was more common in the original Orient-Express. This carriage was build in Birmingham in 1929

The train also consisted of the Service Cars 3915...

...and 3912.

Awaiting the departure, I naturally (sic!) photographed the whole train (well almost, the locos are hidden behind the double decked X40 EMU in the background).

A look backwards in the curve along the Tomteboda yard. To the right is the northern connection to the new commuter train tunnel, planned to be opened in 2017.

The VSOE special 23001 at the 'parade platform' 10 on the Stockholm Central station. I wasn't quite alone taking pictures from the adjacent platform 11...

The first carriage behind the locos was the Sleeping Car 3309, build in Belgium in 1926. It operated exclusively in the Orient-Express, working on various parts of the route between from Paris and Istanbul from 1928 to 1939, via Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest.

A Stockholm to Linköping regional service, headed by a Driving Trailer class AFM7, sneaked in at platform 11.

The passengers soon arrived, accompanied by media and interested personnel from SJ and other railway companies.

Me and the guard TT, posing in front of one of the carriages. I gave away my cap to one of the VSOE staff, who collected on such items.

It was now close to departure time and one of the stewards checked his passenger list an extra time.

My family stood in Älvsjö and waved to me, and here you see the train shortly thereafter, while passing at Stuvsta. Photo: © Rasmus Lundberg.

We had to stand aside in Järna (southwest of Södertälje), letting two of SJ's faster services, SJ 2000 447 and SJ 3000 647, to pass by.

Another glance backwards at the 'lake curve', just outside Gnesta. An impressing train, totally 381 meters long.

We had to stand aside in the rain in the Skebokvarn passing loop as well, letting the regional train 147 to pass by.

My part of the journey ended in rainy Hallsberg. I was released by a colleague from Gothenburg, who drove the train down to Mölndal (south of Gothenburg), where he was released as well, by a colleague who took the train the last strech to Malmö. The Orient-Express adventure was over for me this time. I spent the night at the legendary (?) Hotel Stinsen ('Hotel Station Master') and rode passenger back home the morning after. It was really great that the VSOE trip to Sweden was actually realised and, of course, that I could drive the train a part of the route!


Last update: 2021-07-24
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