Paris, October 4, 1883. The Orient Express is officially inaugurated. At 7:30 p.m., the steam train departs from the Parisian platform Gare de Strasbourg for a 76-hour journey to the Bulgarian port city of Varna. On board are distinguished guests, journalists, and Belgian engineer Georges Nagelmackers.
The luxury train, affordable only to the wealthiest, has been running for several months, but with the inauguration, Nagelmackers' dream truly becomes a reality. After years of lobbying and hard work, he has achieved it with his railway company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits: international train travel across Europe is now possible.
Until 1977, the Orient Express operates as a regular service, with interruptions and through various routes, between London and Istanbul—and slightly further south to Athens. The "hotel on wheels" spends its final years primarily on the route between Strasbourg and Vienna. On December 13, 2009, the last journey is made.
Although the Orient Express no longer runs, its model remains very much alive in the model train market. Collectors from around the world are willing to pay a substantial amount for an exquisite piece. Fauzi Mahmood also owns three small versions of this grandeur on wheels. "The Orient Expresses in my showcases are a miniature of the 1930 model," says Fauzi. "These are genuine Märklins: a top brand from Germany. This model train manufacturer, founded over 160 years ago, delivers the best quality. Every collector desires that. The details are incredibly precise, the lighting and sound technologies are fantastic, and Märklin is the only producer worldwide that uses metal."
"The details are incredibly precise, and the lighting and sound technologies are fantastic."
Nearly 250 Meters of Model Trains
The three Orient Expresses, also known as the "king of trains, train of kings," constitute only a small part of Fauzi's private collection. Over the past thirty years, he has amassed an incredible amount. "I have hundreds of locomotives and thousands of carriages," he reveals. "Currently, they are displayed in four different SDB showcases, but soon the models will be presented in a nine-meter-wide showcase. It consists of five sections, each accommodating around 45 meters of miniatures. In total, that's nearly 250 meters of model trains. People already say the current showcases are like nothing they've seen before; the new ones will leave them speechless."
This gigantic showcase will be housed in the new section of his business in Noordwijk: Miniature Project. It's a family-owned company specializing in model trains and railways. Fauzi has turned his hobby into his profession. But when did this love for trains first arise? "I think it started when I was around four years old," he says. "According to my mother, I played with cars as a toddler, but I made the sound of a train. Not vroom-vroom, but choo-choo-toot-toot. I also wanted to go to the train station every day, where I would place a coin on the rails to witness the power of those magnificent trains. In 1992, I purchased my first miniature starter set."
"SDB and us don't settle for 99 percent; we go for the full 100 percent!"
SDB Showcase Construction Reseller
More than thirty years later, Fauzi has an extensive private collection that he can enjoy during lunch breaks, simply sitting on a chair. His models are rarely available for sale. "But... soon something else will be available," he reveals. "We will become resellers of showcases by SDB Showcase Construction. I have full confidence in the quality they deliver in Rosmalen. And trust me, I'm very critical as a man of details. It's also part of my work: the finest and smallest components make the miniature train. Fortunately, we understand each other in that regard. SDB and us don't settle for 99 percent; we go for the full 100 percent!"
Behind every object in a showcase lies a remarkable story. The showpiece has earned its place behind the glass for a reason. We tell these historical, thrilling, and captivating stories in the Showcase Story section.
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