Work has begun to remove the landmark Pullman Lodge carriages from their seafront home.
Workers for Sunderland City Council have begun removing the iconic carriages from the former hotel and restaurant site in Seaburn this morning.
The process to remove all three carriages is expected to be completed by Sunday afternoon.
The carriages, Padua, Rosalind and Sapphire, date back as far as 1912 and once carried passengers on the world-famous Orient Express. They have been a feature of Sunderland's seafront for more than 30 years.
The business operating from the Pullman Lodge, which was owned by the council, went into liquidation last year and the land and surrounding area is earmarked by developers Siglion for a leisure space, cafes and restaurants, alongside new apartments and houses.
While the main building will be demolished, the historic carriages are being kept intact - and will be transported to Kent, after the council was unable to find anyone in the region interested in taking them on.
Councillor Mel Speding, who serves as cabinet secretary on Sunderland City Council, previously confirmed the authority had received "an offer for restoration of the carriages as a high-quality dining train" in Kent.
“The carriages are understood by experts to be similar to ones drawn by famous trains such as the Golden Arrow night ferry express which once ran through Kent, between London and Dover. Therefore they have a strong link to the south east region’s railway heritage," he said in a statement issued before the carriage removal work began.
Small crowds of people have gathered throughout the day to see the work take place.
William Burdon, 71, from Durham Road in Sunderland, who came to watch the removal work, said: "I'm very sad that this is happening because it's a bit of Sunderland heritage.
"It's going down to Folkestone but I think it should have gone to Beamish or North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering.
"These carriages brought people to the seafront so it's a shame."
Ben Boyce, of Folkestone Harbour, which is helping carry out the work to move the carriages, said: "The removal work is going fine and we should by done by Sunday afternoon.
"They won't be going straight to Folkestone, but to a yard in Chesterfield where they will be restored.
"Then they'll head to the seafront in Folkestone as part of redevelopment work at that area.
"There's been a lot of planning involved and a lot hard work too."