We are not the right persons to write an obituary, but it certainly feels so. The train, often referred to as the “Orient Express” is now gone, only weeks after our visit there. It was not hard to find the train, nor visit it. It layed useless and forgotten in a train maintenance yard like an unclean looking beggar that nobody seems to notice on their way to work. This state of despair was far from the popularity before.
The nickname of the train is a bit misleading because this type 620 train never left Belgium and the original Orient Express line never linked Belgium to Paris-Istanbul-line. The name itself sparks imagination for stylish long distance train rides, but like often in urban exploration, the truth is lost and what remains are the wild guesses of the people looking at a photo.
We entered the train during a bleak, peaceful morning. As I stood in the train car, modern trains passed us in distance carrying people to work and to the ordinary chores of an ordinary day. I could see the faces of some travellers but their faces were stuck in glows coming from their smartphones. This old train had gone full stop, and that was the way we liked it.
Inside, once comfortable seats had lost most of their color and dark wood had gone pale, but we could still sense the original look. In the ceiling, futuristics plafonds lamps were intact and details in the walls were visible. The control room was in bad shape and one of the main windows had a rock-sized hole in it. Outside, the train was covered in deep brown rust, looking like a victim of an endless rain.
Although pale and dead, the train was brought to life in Tanjas photos. We tried the seats together, individually and together again. Mustard yellow and wood came back with details embedded in the walls. We ended up taking much more photos that we initially had thought. After our visit I spent some time searching for old photos of the train on the internet. I managed to find couple. Those strong yellow stripes in the bow were like new and the vehicle fitted to its surroundings. Now, it was a hunk of metal with forms from another dimension, another time. Style and form of 1939 stood in front of us and we didn’t know that we might just have been the last urban explorers to see it.
K.P / 26.2.2019