1896: The Introduction of a World-Renowned Train Service in Europe

May 9, 1896

The Nord Express (Northern Express) train service was introduced by the Belgian company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). This train transported passengers from Paris, France, to Saint Petersburg, Russia, traveling between those two points via the cities of Brussels, Cologne, Hanover, Berlin, Konigsberg (present-day Kalingrad), and Dvinsk (now known as Daugavpils).

Following World War I, this train was diverted to Warsaw, Poland, instead of Saint Petersburg.  (By that time, Saint Petersburg had been renamed Petrograd; this city became officially known as Leningrad starting in 1924 and had its original name restored in 1991.) The Nord Express’s service came to a complete halt after World War II, thanks in large part to both the intense travel restrictions imposed by the Iron Curtain and the ever-increasing competition posed by aviation. 

While perhaps not achieving the same level of renown as the Orient Express (which was likewise operated by CIWL), the Nord Express still became world-famous in its own right and even left a lasting cultural impression. In his 1951 autobiography Speak, Memory, for example, the Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov described in some detail his travels on board the Nord Express during a holiday trip in 1906.

(The above photo of the Nord Express was taken sometime around 1900 at the French commune of Noyon.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Nord Express, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nord_Express

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