Travelling by train between Europe and Turkey will probably remind everyone only the legendary “Orient Express” once run between Istanbul and Paris, and nothing else.
However, there’s another train, which continues to work between Europe and Turkey for 25 years: Optima Express.
This train, running between the Villach/Austria and Edirne/Turkey, is not carrying only passengers, but their cars as well. The service is mainly for the Turkish workers abroad, who’d like to pass their holidays in Turkey with their own cars, and try to avoid the tiring route between Austria and Turkey.
The train has both passenger wagons which have couchette couches and also double deck enclosed car transportation wagons.
The route is passing through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria and finally ends in Edirne train station in Turkey. The whole journey completes 1400 km in 30 hours.
The train is operated by Optima Tours, the first private international railway passenger service in South Eastern Europe.
A few years ago, a similar service was started with the name “Euroturk Express”, but stopped after the first trial.
Although the service managed to attract attention of people from many European countries and reached to 700 trains in 2012, this service is in decline, in parallel to all motorail services in Europe, especially under the hard competition of cheap flights.
On the other hand, less border checks with EU and improving railway infrastructures may strengthen the motorails again. That seems a fast and easy solution for shifting from fossil fuels to electricity.
Cover photo: İhsan Dolguner ©