The ‘real’ Orient Express

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The so-called Orient Express leaves Paris every evening at 5:16 p.m. and arrives in Vienna at 8:30 the next morning. We traveled on this train on May 11, 2006, and returned on May 20 (only because we had nonrefundable tickets).

I booked the trip at RailPass Express, now called Railpass.com (48 Glen Ave., Newton Centre, MA 02459; 877/724-5727, www. railpass.com). I purchased two Eurail Selectpass Savers for four countries at a cost of $530 each, but, in addition, the cost for a sleeper compartment (couchette) for the Paris-to-Vienna train was $100 each and, of course, another $100 each for the return trip — a total of $400. For what we received, we considered that a rip-off.

The sleeper car was so small, it was impossible to use the water sink when the upper bed was in place. The seat was a hard bench with a straight back — very uncomfortable. There was no WC in the compartment.

Also, there was no restaurant on the train. One could buy limited and expensive snacks from the stewardess. Though the couchette price included “breakfast,” all we got was coffee, bread, butter and juice brought to our cabin to eat on tiny, foldout tables.

The journey from Paris to Vienna and back was long, boring and very uncomfortable.

This Orient Express is not to be confused with the restored Venice-Simplon Orient Express that operates on other lines, one of which is a day trip from London to Bath (excellent).

MEL McBETH

Concord, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Railpass.com and received the following reply.

I am writing in response to Mr. McBeth’s letter regarding the Orient Express.

Railpass.com is a booking agency that specializes in European train travel. We are able to book most European trains, including the Paris-Vienna overnight route, which was what was requested from us. Based on the comments from Mr. McBeth, it appears that he may have expected accommodations similar to that of the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, which is a luxury tour train that costs thousands of dollars.

The (real) Orient Express is a train that advertises simple accommodations and is the train that was booked by Mr. McBeth. Information about this is described at the following website: www.seat61.com/orientexpress.htm. The (real) Orient Express is not advertised as an expensive luxury tourist train. Mr. McBeth mentions he was not happy he did not have a WC (toilet) in his room, but this was never mentioned as a possibility.

In terms of the pricing of a particular route, this is not something Railpass.com sets but is something we are billed for. From experience, pricing for a sleeping compartment is based on occupancy and duration of the train. A Double Sleeper, which is more expensive than that of a 4- or 6-person sleeper, was requested on the train in question, which was just over 15 hours in duration. Both of these factors contribute to the $100-per-person rate.

Since we are a booking agency, we always strive to book what is requested of us, while at the same time offering personal insight. Our customers’ feedback is very important to us, and until now we have not had any complaints on the Paris-Vienna overnight route.

We will surely advise on Mr. McBeth’s concerns on any future phone requests for the (real) Orient Express and make sure that customers realize this is not the luxury tour version of the similar name.

JASON MOYER, General Manager, Railpass.com, 48 Glen Ave., Newton Centre, MA 02459

There are reports that the “Orient Express” will discontinue its Paris-Vienna service in June 2007, but ITN could not confirm this.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

The so-called Orient Express leaves Paris every evening at 5:16 p.m. and arrives in Vienna at 8:30 the next morning. We traveled on this train on May 11, 2006, and returned on May 20 (only because we had nonrefundable tickets).

I booked the trip at RailPass Express, now called Railpass.com (48 Glen Ave., Newton Centre, MA 02459; 877/724-5727, www. railpass.com). I purchased two Eurail Selectpass Savers for four countries at a cost of $530 each, but, in addition, the cost for a sleeper compartment (couchette) for the Paris-to-Vienna train was $100 each and, of course, another $100 each for the return trip — a total of $400. For what we received, we considered that a rip-off.

The sleeper car was so small, it was impossible to use the water sink when the upper bed was in place. The seat was a hard bench with a straight back — very uncomfortable. There was no WC in the compartment.

Also, there was no restaurant on the train. One could buy limited and expensive snacks from the stewardess. Though the couchette price included “breakfast,” all we got was coffee, bread, butter and juice brought to our cabin to eat on tiny, foldout tables.

The journey from Paris to Vienna and back was long, boring and very uncomfortable.

This Orient Express is not to be confused with the restored Venice-Simplon Orient Express that operates on other lines, one of which is a day trip from London to Bath (excellent).

MEL McBETH

Concord, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Railpass.com and received the following reply.

I am writing in response to Mr. McBeth’s letter regarding the Orient Express.

Railpass.com is a booking agency that specializes in European train travel. We are able to book most European trains, including the Paris-Vienna overnight route, which was what was requested from us. Based on the comments from Mr. McBeth, it appears that he may have expected accommodations similar to that of the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, which is a luxury tour train that costs thousands of dollars.

The (real) Orient Express is a train that advertises simple accommodations and is the train that was booked by Mr. McBeth. Information about this is described at the following website: www.seat61.com/orientexpress.htm. The (real) Orient Express is not advertised as an expensive luxury tourist train. Mr. McBeth mentions he was not happy he did not have a WC (toilet) in his room, but this was never mentioned as a possibility.

In terms of the pricing of a particular route, this is not something Railpass.com sets but is something we are billed for. From experience, pricing for a sleeping compartment is based on occupancy and duration of the train. A Double Sleeper, which is more expensive than that of a 4- or 6-person sleeper, was requested on the train in question, which was just over 15 hours in duration. Both of these factors contribute to the $100-per-person rate.

Since we are a booking agency, we always strive to book what is requested of us, while at the same time offering personal insight. Our customers’ feedback is very important to us, and until now we have not had any complaints on the Paris-Vienna overnight route.

We will surely advise on Mr. McBeth’s concerns on any future phone requests for the (real) Orient Express and make sure that customers realize this is not the luxury tour version of the similar name.

JASON MOYER, General Manager, Railpass.com, 48 Glen Ave., Newton Centre, MA 02459

There are reports that the “Orient Express” will discontinue its Paris-Vienna service in June 2007, but ITN could not confirm this.