Saturday 22 April 2023

British Leg of The Orient Express To Cease Operations

Belmond, the company that runs the Venice Simplon Orient Express is axing the British leg of its journey. The company, famous around the world for once in a lifetime railway experiences, says the potential delays and inconvenience due to Brexit are not the sort of once in a lifetime experience it wants its passengers to endure. It means an end to passengers visiting historic Folkestone, where the harbour station was once the hub for European services.

The decision was made due to delays caused by Brexit border controls. Although British travellers will still be able to experience Belmond domestic services, such as their popular Scottish land cruises and a programme of day trips, they will no longer be able to begin Orient Express journeys from London, and miss out on a visit to the original English Channel port of Folkestone.

Although “boat-trains” of the inter-war years no longer operate, Belmond recreates the experience by routing their luxury train via Folkestone in Kent, from where passengers are transferred to a road coach for the Channel crossing. The Recent scenes of chaos, particularly in Dover and Calais, gave damning evidence of the prudence of the decision to quit the UK leg of the journey. 
During the Easter holidays, travellers faced delays of up to 14 hours in Dover due to post-Brexit security checks. Belmond fears that the new biometric passport checks being agreed by the UK and EU will only make the situation worse.

The old Folkestone Harbour station unused by regular trains since 2000 and has been refurbished and is now part of a new walkway.