Celebrating the ‘revival’ of sleeper trains in Europe, don’t forget Russia has been running those for decades
“Sleeper trains are back!” That's according to Bloomberg business news who reported this week that long distance night time trains will be returning to Europe. Amen! Like a station conductor waving their green flag high in the air with excitement along a smoky platform... Let's all rejoice at the news!
The article continues to describe the sad state of sleeper trains in mainland Europe, where the lines between Germany and the Netherlands, Denmark and France, France and Italy, have been phased, with the remaining sleeper carriages, “well over 30 years old,” remaining mostly in use on domestic routes. Sad.
So let's all thank our lucky stars that Austria's Österreichische Bundesbahnen-Holding AG are now breathing new life into the fading business. With new links from Vienna to Brussels, Zurich, Venice and a new rolling stock set to be delivered in 2022, the article's headline states; ‘Not Exactly the Orient Express, But Europe's Sleepers Are Back’.
But what is off the rails is how the article ignores this small unimportant country called Russia famous for its railroad network of more than 85,200km – with numerous lines connecting to Europe.
Of course there's the famous Trans-Siberian express, the handsome VIP Golden Eagle luxury train and the popular Red Arrow Moscow to St. Petersburg overnight sleeper.
But there are also daily Moscow-Warsaw trains, sleepers included. There is a train that connects Moscow to Berlin, it takes almost 24 hours and costs around €150 ($166). Russian Railways (RZD) runs a train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Moscow once a week, with comfortable two- and four-berth regular sleeping cars. You can take the Tolstoy train between Moscow and Helsinki too.
Throw in multiple-stop RZD journeys that run through Europe – connecting such cities as Vienna and Milan, Genoa and Nice, Prague and Warsaw – and suddenly the pompous claim to “reinvent the sleeper in Europe” lacks credibility. And hey presto, you understand my passion for derailing the fake hype. Ha!Also on rt.com German consortium offers €2bn to invest in high-speed Russian railways
With the Greta effect in full swing and people more aware of their carbon footprint – if affordable, sleeper trains could become the preferred choice for many countries in Western Europe. But let's not forget those countries that have offered the service for decades without pause.
Tickets please! Just make sure you have the right information.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.