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Orient Express

It was the time when steam still reigned supreme on the Belgian rail.
It was the time when the journey between Brussels and Liège was faster than today.
It was the time when the NMBS/SNCB purchased rolling stock in Belgium, and not to foreign companies (aka Siemens) that will dismiss a few thousand people in our tiny country in a near future.
It was the time when Belgium invented the real Orient Express and exported its railway know-how worldwide.
It was the time when all the energy and money were not swallowed up in the high speed rail (as Eurostar, Thalys or Fyra) and aberrations such as Liège-Guillemins or Mons-St.-Elio stations.
It was the time when the direction of the railway consisted of railwaymen, not by managers from political parties.
This was the time when train travel was not an adventure as it's (too) often the case today.
It was the good time...

If coal was the main fuel trains, diesel began softly to it to overshadow the early 30's. Thus, NMBS/SNCB asked the national industry to build fast machines in order to perform the connections between major cities, and smaller units serving regional rail lines. For units that have had the chance to get free of the Second World War, they will stop their career in the late 60's.
Of course, the NMBS/SNCB sent directly to scrap all the railcars that suited it more. Only a few units have survived, as part of the railcar 654.02.
It could carry up to 259 passengers divided into three cars and two classes, with a maximum speed of 135 km/h (83 mph - speed sometimes reached by our modern trains). Comfort seemed really good for the time.
The unit visited is now waiting for 40 years to a railway museum which still does not exist. Obviously, when it is exposed to the elements, the result is not good...
The unofficial catchphrase of the NMBS/SNCB sounds "... We apologize.".

Orient Express

The first class compartment.
More comfortable but equally dirty in some existing trains.

Orient Express

Commuters have recognized the type of windows still used by the NMBS/SNCB until the end of 2013.

Orient Express

 

Orient Express

Considering the color oxidation, all metal parts seem to be made of copper.

Orient Express

Inlet of the engine compartment.

Orient Express

The cockpit.
No driver seat, no air conditioning, two levers, three dials and the engine to keep warm buttocks. It's far from modern comfort standards.

Orient Express

 

Orient Express

 

Orient Express

Two motors propelled the railcar, one at each end. Other more powerful machines arrived at a top speed of 155 km/h (96 mph).

Orient Express

En français...

Orient Express

... en in het Nederlands.

Orient Express

Each row of seats controlled ventilation.

Orient Express

You could also open the windows.

Orient Express

The vent system.

Orient Express

The inside lighting is also copper.

Orient Express

The electric switchboard of the railcar.

Orient Express

Boarding platform.

Orient Express

 

Orient Express

The high-speed train of the era.

Orient Express

Aerodynamics nose.

Orient Express

Finally, a vintage photo. The NMBS/SNCB hasn't even been able to preserve carefully one of the few pre-war railcars...
© Rixke Rail’s Archives

5

October 2014

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