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Airlines win: DB throws in the towel - end of European night trains?

Airlines win: DB throws in the towel - end of European night trains?

Old Jan 13, 16, 7:22 pm
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Airlines win: DB throws in the towel - end of European night trains?

By ending its night train services, has Deutsche Bahn effectively thrown in the towel for long-haul travelers in the fight against low-cost airlines?

GERMAN Rail (DB) has confirmed that as part of its planned cost reductions for next year it will cease operating all overnight trains with sleeper, couchette and specially-equipped overnight seating coaches from December 15 2016.
DB says it has tried to "rescue" the night train network in recent years but it remains stubbornly unprofitable. DB has released figures showing its night trains were used by 1.3 million passengers over the last year (around 1% of all long distance passengers). The trains made a loss of 32m on a turnover of 90m and DB predicts similar numbers for 2016.


As someone with very fond memories of the European night trains - working a full day, hopping a night train, waking up in another country, sightseeing an entire day before hopping another night train to yet another country, then heading back to work in the same manner - this is very sad news. Yes, there will still be some non-DB services offered, but with the heart of Europe missing from the network, these vestiges will most likely wither and die in short order. Yes, DB will offer daytime-standard services overnight, but who other than the poorest backpacker would be willing to endure it?

With the lack of overnight service, who else would choose the train over a flight for distances equivalent to those the night trains offered (Berlin-Budapest; Amsterdam-Zurich, etc.)? I certainly wouldn't waste a day on the train, ICE or otherwise, except perhaps in particularly scenic areas like Switzerland or western Austria.

It's time to book a last EuroNight or CityNightLine itinerary and say goodbye to a very fond memory.
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Old Jan 13, 16, 10:32 pm
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I'm pretty sure Scandinavia still has night train service, albeit domestic network.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 5:07 am
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DB will cease operating although there are moves afoot for other operators to use German rail tracks as part of new services starting outside Germany.

You are correct that sleeper services continue in the Nordic countries. AFAIK there are no plans to cancel those
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Old Jan 14, 16, 5:50 am
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There are others: Paris-Venice, two British routes, Italian domestic service, possibly Iberian service, Scandinavian, and miscellaneous Eastern European routes, but this cuts out the heart of the network. I'll be interested to see which other countries elect to establish links across German territory.

Does anyone offer CNL-level service or are the remainders pretty much like the old D-Zug lines?
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Old Jan 14, 16, 7:01 am
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The Norwegian sleeper trains are CNL-level, I'd say. There are brand new ones due to the Caledonian Sleeper routes in the UK (strictly speaking, there are three sleeper routes, with a total of 6 termini from London).

But it's not surprising there are massive cutbacks. These things are expensive to run - high staff-to-passenger ratio, particularly when you take signalling and station opening into account, and lots of idle time.

I do hope OEBB takes on some of the routes, as discussed.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by stut View Post
The Norwegian sleeper trains are CNL-level, I'd say. There are brand new ones due to the Caledonian Sleeper routes in the UK (strictly speaking, there are three sleeper routes, with a total of 6 termini from London).
Mea culpa - in my pre-caffeinated state, I was thinking in terms of London-Scotland and London-Penzance. I'd really like to take the latter one day and head out to the islands, though on second thought perhaps not. They are a scilly place.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 11:42 am
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So I wonder if the Oberhausen - Warsaw train that is run jointly by Poland and Germany will be no more?
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Old Jan 20, 16, 4:39 pm
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So sad, an end to an era. I've done fewer overnights in sleeper cars than you can count on fingers of one hand, but will miss them.

And no, I won't be doing any more overnights in regular wagons like I did in my youth
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Old Jan 25, 16, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by Barciur View Post
So I wonder if the Oberhausen - Warsaw train that is run jointly by Poland and Germany will be no more?
Oberhausen to Warsaw? I had no idea that it existed! But I reckon Polish rail stations are less sad than Oberhausen or Duisburg. I know there is a bus service from Duisburg to Poland, but the former bus stop has got some silly office block going up in its place. No idea where it leaves from now.

The end of overnight train services is more than a shame, it's a scandal. A surprising number of people still make use of these. For me, it really bailed me out a couple of times, being able to hop on a train in Basel after a concert in Switzerland and wake up in Weimar the next day in time for a rehearsal. I've often looked for such night connections in the last year or so, and they just don't exist any more.
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Old Jan 26, 16, 1:48 pm
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While I, too, have occasionally been in the market for an overnight sleeper train, most recently Copenhagen-Dresden (June 2014), I take issue with the OP's assertion that taking a long day trip on a train is "a waste". I enjoy seeing the country that I'm traveling through...for me, the unnecessary trip to an airport and hopping around the skies is a waste.

For example, we recently traveled from Hallstatt, Austria to Muerren, Switzerland on an all-day rail itinerary requiring 7 changes of train...essentailly taking from 7am to 6pm. It was a very good way to see Austria and Switzerland, and to travel through Liechtenstein, as an added bonus.
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Old Jan 26, 16, 5:07 pm
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Will prob look to take one at some point this year, simply as it's something I've never done
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Old Jan 26, 16, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Reindeerflame View Post
While I, too, have occasionally been in the market for an overnight sleeper train, most recently Copenhagen-Dresden (June 2014), I take issue with the OP's assertion that taking a long day trip on a train is "a waste". I enjoy seeing the country that I'm traveling through...for me, the unnecessary trip to an airport and hopping around the skies is a waste.

For example, we recently traveled from Hallstatt, Austria to Muerren, Switzerland on an all-day rail itinerary requiring 7 changes of train...essentailly taking from 7am to 6pm. It was a very good way to see Austria and Switzerland, and to travel through Liechtenstein, as an added bonus.
That's exactly the sort of trip I had in mind when I wrote:
Originally Posted by dolcevita View Post
I certainly wouldn't waste a day on the train, ICE or otherwise, except perhaps in particularly scenic areas like Switzerland or western Austria.
Now imagine your all-day trip spent instead on the Polish or Hungarian plains. Nice for a bit, but I'd rather fly and spend the extra time in Budapest or Krakow.
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Old Jan 26, 16, 10:44 pm
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Back in the 60's and 70's riding overnight in EUROPE (via a EURAILPASS) in 1st class coach, 6 seats per compartment was FREE; except for Scandanavian trips (which had few 1st class seats), I usually had a compartment to myself--not as comfortable as a sleeper or couchette), but was a nice Eurail perk, saving me the cost of a hotel.
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Old Feb 7, 16, 12:43 am
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I just took the overnight from Cologne to Vienna this week, although it was an OBB train, not DB. The train seemed rather tired but it was still an enjoyable trip, and was cheaper than flying that route - for a family of 4 it would be a lot cheaper than flying.
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Old Feb 7, 16, 5:58 am
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I took the SJ night train from Malmo to Stockholm a few days ago.

The journey itself took 7 hours, not including a 45 minute scheduled stop at 3am.

The train was ready 1 hour before the scheduled departure time and stayed on the platform 45 minutes after arrival, so you could in theory sleep for 9 hours. The bed was comfortable, and it is possible to make the cabin completely dark despite bright platform lights outside, but the train was slightly jittery and noisy. This wouldn't normally prevent me from sleeping, but I was in the wrong timezone.

Occupancy appeared to be less than 50%, but I didn't check out the non-sleeper compartments.

It was cheaper than travelling in the day and getting a hotel, and a hotel breakfast at the Radisson Blu is included with the train ticket. I only saw 4 other passengers availing themselves of the breakfast though.

This was an interesting way to get to ARN for my ridiculously cheap QR J ARN-HKG flight while completing some business at CPH the day before (and there was no BA RFS availability to ARN that could connect). Also, I timed the depreciation of the SEK correctly when I purchased the ticket, so it cost about GBP 12 less than it would today. I would take this train again if it fit my schedule.

I have a few pics if anyone is interested.
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