The European Sleeper night route between Brussels and Berlin is set to gain an extra leg, travelling on to Dresden in eastern Germany and Prague in the Czech Republic from 25 March 2024.
Reflecting latest travel industry trends, the Dutch-Belgian operator does not expect a journey time of 15.5 hours all the way from Brussels to Prague to put any would-be passengers off. “We expect that around 40 per cent of passengers will travel to and from Dresden or Prague, and 60 per cent to and from Berlin,” the company said in a press statement.
Over 20,000 passengers
Originally slated to run all the way to the Czech Republic, the night train has been terminating in Berlin three times a week since May 2023, due to engineering works that prevented the full route being activated. In that time, over 20,000 passengers have been delivered safely to their destination as they slept.
“We are very proud of that,” said Chris Engelsman, co-founder of European Sleeper. “During the summer, the trains were well used and some were fully booked.”
Now four European capitals are about to be connected. Indeed, the popularity of Europe’s sleeper trains is proving such that the company plans to introduce a new service by the end of 2025, heading from Amsterdam and Brussels but in the other direction, towards Barcelona, as part of its strategy to create an extensive network of sleeper trains from Belgium and the Netherlands.
And in other signs of the health of the market, Austrian competitor ÖBB has invested 720 million euros in new sleeper train stock. In fact, one of the only barriers to train expansion in Europe is the availability of new carriages.
Three levels of comfort
As train expert, The Man in Seat 61, has remarked, the European Sleeper founders have made “a huge effort battling railway bureaucracy to get this train up and running. It’s been particularly difficult to source serviceable rolling stock as there’s so little available for hire, but they’ve done it and they now have a comfortable and operationally robust train even though it inevitably uses older rolling stock.”
Older stock it may be but European Sleeper trains nonetheless offer service at three levels of comfort. ‘Deluxe Sleepers’ take a maximum of three people (mixed) in a compartment with a private washbasin, seats, a table and breakfast. A ‘Comfort Couchette’ means you share with 6, 4 or book it privately, sleeping on seats that become bunks. You share a washroom on the corridor. Breakfast is again included. And if you’re on a budget, you can book a seat as on a normal train.