The return of the sleeper train in Europe

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It seems that there are now a constant stream of new route announcements. Berlin had (after City Night Line) pulled the plug just one sleeper train IIRC. Now we are back up to connections to:

Malmo/Stockholm

Zurich

Paris/Moscow (suspended for obvious reasons)

Vienna/Graz

Bratislava/Budapest

(that I can think of)

And from this summer a new startup called European Sleeper will operate Berlin-Amsterdam-Brussels (eventually extending to Prague via Dresden at the eastern end. Nightjet has also announced a Brussels-Berlin connection that will run via Karlsruhe where it will swap coaches with the Paris-Vienna route, offering a direct Berlin-Paris sleeper that isn't operated by Russian Railways.

 

All over Europe, led largely by the Austrian ÖBB's Nightjet, the sleeper is experiencing a huge revival. Who else likes sleepers? Where would you like to go on one? Where have you been to on one? 

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35 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Where would you like to go on one?

 

We are planning a visit to Tivoli near Rome in 2024 to meet up with a bunch of friends, would love to take a sleeper train from Munich to there, if anything will be available?

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You can already take a Nightjet from Munich to Rome Termini :-)

 

We might take that option next time we visit Rome actually. Munich is a relatively short hop on the ICE from Berlin these days. The man in seat 61 is a great website for checking connections and getting ideas about what to do during connections etc.

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Munich to Rome sleeper options get booked up well in advance - check when they get released and make a note.  We once went from Munich to Venice NOT in a sleeper, longest night of my life.  We have done Munich to Rome in the 6 berth couchette and also in a proper sleeper compartment.  Both were great but for the 6 berth couchette it is best if you can book the whole couchette.  Possible if you are 4-6 people I think?  We did it once just the two of us, so shared with strangers, and once we were a group of 6 - was great fun.

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ÖBB will certainly allow a family of three even to book a private couchette. Prices are competitive too. I checked Berlin-Graz and any date I checked it was a flat €193 for the private couchette for the three of us. This includes a small complimentary breakfast.

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10 minutes ago, sluzup said:

Munich to Rome sleeper options get booked up well in advance - check when they get released and make a note.

Thanks for that and will do. We have also done the long night from Munich Venice not in a sleeper and concur not recommended, my wife has done it several times by sleeper and loved it though sadly an early morning espresso on arrival in Venice is no longer the same since they closed that lovely old station cafe.:(

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20 minutes ago, sluzup said:

Munich to Rome sleeper options get booked up well in advance - check when they get released and make a note.  We once went from Munich to Venice NOT in a sleeper, longest night of my life.  We have done Munich to Rome in the 6 berth couchette and also in a proper sleeper compartment.  Both were great but for the 6 berth couchette it is best if you can book the whole couchette.  Possible if you are 4-6 people I think?  We did it once just the two of us, so shared with strangers, and once we were a group of 6 - was great fun.

They do female only sleeping compartments too.  If you have no choice except a reclining seat take a blanket, pillow, wax earplugs, or headphones and eyemask.  And have valuables hidden under your clothes   

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We did the Berlin-Stockholm one in seats. Never, ever again. That's a solid 18 hours in the seat. ok you can stretch your legs when it stops for breaks like in Hamburg (briefly) and Malmö (much longer) and unusually for a sleeper it has a dining car (you have to leave your bags unattended though, you can't really lug them into the restaurant) but it's not pleasant in the seat and a false economy. Personally if it was a choice between an overnight seat on a train or just flying, I would fly, but if there's a bed option then the train wins for me. It's just way more civilised :-)

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Hmm

Just took a look at the Nightjet website and it would not let me specify a booking date for tickets to Rome later than June this year but for going out that month it only offered returns in September:wacko:. Not a lot of use if that is typical!

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I took overnight trains from BW to Leipzig and back some years ago, did not sleep much.

 

The Guardian reported recently on an overnight journey from Glasgow to London, the travellers slept surprisingly well.

..

When they looked outside in the morning they realised why. The train was still in Glasgow😕

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I did the Munich to Rome and back overnight train, I did not really like it. I was hoping to see the Alps, but by the time the train got there it was going dark, I think the plane is the nice way to do it ....

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I guess an advantage the train has is that if you live in central Munich you are already 3/4 of an hour from the airport. With the sleeper (assuming couchette) you take a shower at home before leaving for Hbf. You can bring an unrestricted amount of luggage and you can bring "dangerous items" that would not be allowed as hand luggage on a plane, or perhaps at all. You settle in for the evening and just sleep. The train is your hotel as well. You arrive into Rome rested, but early in time for breakfast and have a full day. You drop your bags off at your hotel and use the time in the city rather than in the airports and on the aircraft. Going home is the same, you have a full day. You don't need to be at Termini 2 hours before departure. If your hotel is near the station, just leave your bags there. If not, use lockers at the station and go and enjoy the city. No stress about making sure you get out to the airport in time as Termini is centrally located. You then get to sleep all the way home and again, you have a full day to do stuff when you get there.

 

But some people like air travel. I do as well, sometimes, but short hop budget airline flights aren't enjoyable for me personally. They are very much a means to an end whereas I genuinely enjoy train travel.

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I took sleeper trains from the Netherlands to Italy in the 1980s since planes were too expensive. Once, I went to Milan through Switzerland and once to Verona through Austria. I had a couchette with 4-6 people, but didn’t rest well. I gave my passport to the ticket collector beforehand, so we wouldn’t be waked at the borders. Trains make noise like rumbling, chuggling and screeching of the brakes. How to sleep? I looked outside at night in Switzerland and saw small villages covered in snow in the mountains. That was a great view. You can also have nice long conversations with fellow passengers.

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Hard to imagine relaxing and sleeping well overnight on a train, especially on a short journey where you have to join at 23:00 and alight at 5:00. Might be better to sleep on land and travel by day, unless one is so important that Time is Money.

 

One place you could sleep well back then was on a longer ferry crossing, like Hamburg - Harwich: 20 hours crossing allowed 12 h sleep and plenty more time to relax😉

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HD to Strassbourg to Milan to Cinque Terra and it was light when we went through the Alps..  So, snow, and later that day we were swimming in the Med.  I can sleep okay.  Better than wasting 2 days of holiday.  If you get stuck in a seat another thing that helps me, is putting luggage on floor in front of seat, so you can sort of curl up a bit.  However, I am 5 foot 6, and could not work so well for everyone.  The old trains that rattled through Europe had seating compartments of 6, which had pull out sections that turned the whole thing into a large bed sort of thing.  OK, a bit weird, but mostly ok using handluggage to stop you rolling into/onto people you did not know...  Much more comfortable than trying to sleep upright.  And even the luggage racks were pretty comfy.

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21 minutes ago, Fietsrad said:

Hard to imagine relaxing and sleeping well overnight on a train, especially on a short journey where you have to join at 23:00 and alight at 5:00. Might be better to sleep on land and travel by day, unless one is so important that Time is Money.

 

Idk I find the train's rhythmic motion rocks me off to sleep quite nicely but I guess everyone is different. I think many journeys you can do from 23.00 to 05.00 in a sleeper (they travel fairly slowly) would be candidates for an ICE connection instead. If you can do it in 6 hours behind a loco often limited to 140 or 160 km/h then an ICE will have you there in a little over 3 hours if a connection is available. I wouldn't take the sleeper in that case, I would just travel on the ICE during the day.

 

We are seriously looking at Berlin - Budapest this August. My wife has family in Hungary and a trip there is actually overdue. We can take the sleeper departing 18:50 Hbf and arriving in Budapest at 8.30. That's a perfect distance on the sleeper I reckon. Enough time to enjoy a bit of scenery before bed and not too early a start the following morning. 

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The reason we used sleepers even within Germany was taking bikes and small children up to Denmark.  ICEs did not take bikes back then.  And it was fun.  There did use to be a really convenient one for a few years too.  Stopped at HD at about 10 pm, got to Hamburg Altona about 7 am.  A car train with really confortable open carriage seats that converted to bunk beds with curtains as a sleeping arrangement.  Sadly no more.  Perhaps still if you have a car and want to schlepp it to Sylt from Munich.

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1 hour ago, Fietsrad said:

Hamburg - Harwich:

 

I miss that. Very much wish it was still a thing.

 

My last trip on it, Kid#1 was a very cute 5 y o, and an elderly couple asked if they could take her to the shop to get treats whilst I played with her 2 y o brother. It was lovely. Pretty sure I should've said no, but a fine time was had by all, luckily :)

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