Follow me on Twitter for live news updates & more...

 

October 2021

Coronavirus travel update:  See the COVID-19 information page

Lumo launches...

Lo-cost London-Edinburgh operator Lumo ran its inaugural train for press & media on 21 October, with ;public service starting on 25 October.  With fares from 14.90 and a promise of 60% of tickets 30 or less, the service aims firmly at the lo-cast airlines.  I travelled on Lumo's press & media preview train on 21 October 2021, see the video here.

European timetable changes in December...

Timetables change across Europe at 24:00 on the 2nd Saturday in December.  DB (German Railways) have said that bookings for dates after the timetable change will open in 13 October, SNCF (French Railways) bookings usually opens around the same time.  Here's a round-up of the major changes expected so far:

Odds & ends this month...

September 2021

Coronavirus travel update:  See the COVID-19 information page

Eurostar ski train to run again in winter 2021/22 (sort of)

The Eurostar ski train from London to Moutiers & Bourg St Maurice didn't run in winter 2020/21.  However, 1 Ski train per week will run in winter 2021/22, Friday nights overnight southbound, Saturdays by day inbound.  It's being financed by Compagnie des Alpes which owns many of the resorts  It will be sold as the TravelSki Express.  In effect it's a charter train this winter, which means it won't be sold as ticket-only, but as part of ski packages sold at www.TravelSki.com.  I'll post more details when known, on the Ski by Train page.

European timetable changes in December...

Timetables change across Europe at 24:00 on the 2nd Saturday in December.  Here's a round-up of the major changes expected so far:

Lumo is go!  London-Edinburgh from 14.90...

Open access operator Lumo will offer 2 trains per day with fares from 14.90 when it starts on 25 October.  By early 2022 they'll be running up to 5 trains per day each way, with 60% of fares under 30.  It's aimed fairly and squarely at easyJet & Ryanair passengers, and I've added basic info on the London to Edinburgh page.  I'll be watching this project with great interest - pass the popcorn!

Eurostar increases service as travel resumes...

Eurostar are increasing London-Paris to 5 train per day each way until November, London-Brussels to 3 trains per day.  Vaccinated UK travellers can now visit many countries fairly freely, including France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and passing through Belgium in less than 48h is not a problem either.  Entering Italy requires a negative Covid test in the 48 hours before arrival.  I explain the arrangements for travel to mainland Europe on the COVID-19 information page.

Odds & ends this month...

August 2021

Coronavirus travel update:  See the COVID-19 information page

Paris-Barcelona TGVs cut to 1 per day, so switch to the sleeper!

While Spain was in lockdown, only the morning TGV operated between Paris & Barcelona.  Fair enough.  When borders opened, I expected the afternoon TGV to be restored permanently, but it seems it will only run until 30 August, presumably due to reduced demand, leaving just one TGV per day between Paris & Barcelona even with borders open.  That leaves the Perpignan-Barcelona high-speed line as an expensive white elephant with just 2 trains a day (the other train still running is the Barcelona-Lyon AVE).  The morning 10:14 Paris-Barcelona TGV leaves too early for connections from London or Amsterdam, and arrives too late to connect with the afternoon 15:50 AVE from Barcelona to Cordoba & Seville.  Time to switch back to the night trains?  I have added a Paris to Barcelona by sleeper train page explaining how to take the French sleeper trains from Paris to the Spanish border at Portbou or Latour de Carol, and a connecting local train to Barcelona.  I've then added journey options using this route between London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg & Berlin and Barcelona, Seville, Valencia & Alicante.

Changes to Copenhagen-Oslo ferry...

The DFDS overnight cruise ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo will now call at Frederikshavn in northern Denmark, to replace Stena Line's Frederikshavn-Oslo ferry which is discontinued.  Unfortunately, this means leaving Copenhagen at 14:15 rather than 16:30, breaking the connection with the first train of the day from Hamburg to Copenhagen.  It'll still be possible to go Hamburg to Frederikshavn with 2 changes, and make the late-night departure from there to Oslo.  Southbound, the ferry leaves Oslo at 14:15 instead of 16:39, so connections to Hamburg & the rest of Europe are maintained.

Can you help with photos?

When I first started Seat 61 20 years ago, I fondly thought I could travel around and get all the photos I needed myself.  I've finally accepted that I can't do it all myself.  Even when I do get photos, rebranded colour schemes, new trains and refurbished interiors often render my own photos out of date.  So if you use this site, find it useful, and have any photos which might help future travellers follow in your footsteps, please get in touch.  There are a few specific photos I'm lacking, more information on the photo request page.

Settle & Carlisle, England's most scenic railway...

I'm delighted that I've finally added a page about England's most scenic railway, the Settle & Carlisle line.  With a great history as well as fabulous scenery, it makes for an excellent day out, or you can build it into your next train trip between London & Scotland.  I was able to add that page after a press preview trip on the wonderful Staycation Express, a charter train that's building on the S&C's position as a tourist attraction.  See the Settle & Carlisle video.

Karawanks Tunnel work completed, Munich-Zagreb sleeper resumes...

The work in the Karawanks Tunnel between Austria & Slovenia was completed on 31 July.  The Munich-Zagreb sleeper has resumed, the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper is no longer diverted and will resume calling at Ljubljana.  I have removed the warnings on the various affected pages.

July 2021

Coronavirus travel update:  See the COVID-19 information page

Hope for a direct Madrid-Lisbon daytime train?

It's reported that Renfe is now proposing a Madrid-Lisbon daytime train, 06:35 from Lisbon arriving Madrid 15:00, 15:30 from Madrid arriving Lisbon 21:55, to replace the Lusitania Trenhotel sleeper service that has been suspended since March 2020 and which Renfe do not plan to restore.  These timings would allow same-day connections to/from Barcelona. 7h20 isn't fast, but it could be speeded up when Madrid-Badajoz high-speed line opens in 2024.

Renfe's new fare types & classes in Spain...

Renfe (Spanish Railways) have adopted a completely new fares structure for all its long distance trains starting this month, and they've also changed the terms they use for classes.  Gone are the long-standing Turista & Preferente, Renfe now offers Standard & Comfort class.  For an explanation of the new setup, see the fares & classes section on the Train travel in Spain page.  I have revised the How to use Renfe.com section, updated the Train travel in Spain page and (I think) changed all the terminology used for Spanish classes & ticket types throughout the site.  If you find any stray mentions of 'Turista' or 'Promo fares' let me know!

Odds & ends this month...

June 2021

Coronavirus travel update:  See the COVID-19 information page

Thello Paris-Venice & Nice-Milan definitively dead...

Finally, they say as much on their site.  As from July, the Thello sleeper train between Paris & Venice and the day trains between Nice & Milan are permanently discontinued.  Thello wasn't the best sleeper train in the world, but it was the only one on a major route with high demand and distances more suited to sleepers than high-speed trains.  This leaves a massive gap in the market.  As for terminating all Italian trains from Milan and Genoa at Ventimiglia on the border, 55 minutes short of Nice where everyone wants to go, is crazy, and (frankly) an indictment of European rail policy.  See the announcement at www.thello.com/en/traffic-information...

Now you can book online from Warsaw or Krakow to Prague!

Until now, the Czech Railways (CD) website www.cd.cz would happily sell you an advance-purchase ticket from Prague to Krakow or Warsaw from as little as 19, one-way or round trip, but only in the outward direction.  That was because you needed to print out the ticket and have it stamped by a Czech station or conductor before entering Poland.  The Czech staff have access to the CD sales system so could verify it as genuine, Polish conductors would only accept tickets if they'd been verified & stamped by CD staff.  So www.cd.cz couldn't sell tickets for the Poland to Prague direction.  And you couldn't buy them online from Polish Railways (PKP Intercity) either, as PKP have been utterly negligent in not enabling online sale of any international train tickets from Poland, other than to Berlin.  So until now you couldn't buy a Warsaw or Krakow to Prague ticket online at all, at any website, anywhere.

This also in effect made rail travel far more expensive:  Overseas visitors travelling from Krakow to Prague couldn't go online and buy a cheap 19 advance-purchase fare a week or two before they reached Poland, they had to buy at the station when they got to Poland when all the cheap advance tickets had sold out.  A full-flex ticket bought on the day costs 70.  Now CD has enabled online sales in both directions, problem solved (no thanks to PKP).  Phew...

A Zurich-Rome sleeper may start in Spring 2022...

It's reported that the Zurich-Rome sleeper planned for December 2022 may start earlier than that.  Departure from Zurich around 20:00, arrive in Rome around 09:15. Departure from Rome around 19:00, arrival in Zurich around 07:30.  It will consist of 2 Trenitalia sleeping-cars and 5 Trenitalia couchette cars, staffed by the same contractor who staffs Trenitalia's domestic sleepers.  See this article (in German) at www.aargauerzeitung.ch.

Odds & ends this month...

May 2021

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

Sleeper trains return to Amsterdam from 24 May...

The Vienna/Innsbruck/Munich to Amsterdam Nightjet train starts running from 24 May, the extension from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam postponed from the year by covid-19.  It's due to be joined by a new Amsterdam-Zurich train from December.  The train number - Nightjet 420 - is causing a few titters, I had to look up cannabis culture to understand why - see this Twitter thread.

Major rail reorganisation in Britain...

The long-awaited Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail was published on 20 May.  It's 'game over' for franchising, a new government organisation to be called Great British Railways will be formed out of what's now Network Rail and this will set fares, plan services and generally run the network.  Trains will still be run by private companies, but as mere contractors, not franchisees.  Fares are to be simplified, flexible season tickets introduced and digital tickets rolled out across the network rather than by operator.  The report can be downloaded here, The report can be downloaded here My interpretation of it can be seen on Twitter here.  More standardisation, less fragmentation?  Probably.  Less innovation and no Chiltern-style investment as it all now needs to come from government?  Possibly.  We shall see.

Flixtrain starts Stockholm-Gothenburg trains...

Low-cost train operator Flixtrain started services between Stockholm & Gothenburg on 6 May 2021, initially 2 services each way on weekdays, 3 per day at weekends, fares from 12.99, www.flixtrain.com/train/gothenburg.

Brussels/Amsterdam to Warsaw sleeper?

It now appears that a Brussels & Amsterdam to Warsaw portion will eventually be added to European Sleeper's Brussels & Amsterdam to Prague sleeper referred to in April's news.  This comes from a track access application in Poland.

Vladivostok-Korea-Japan ferry back in action - sort of...

DBS Ferry suspended its weekly sailings of the ferry Eastern Dream between Vladivostok, Korea & Japan in November 2019, and discontinued them permanently in February 2020.  However, Duwon Shipping has now taken over the Eastern Dream, and a weekly service started operating from Vladivostok again, in September 2020.  The Korean port is now Pohang, just north of Busan, and in Japan they are using Maizuru, on the north coast opposite Kyoto.  The ferry is currently only carrying freight due to the pandemic, but it's expected that passengers will be carried when border restrictions end.  More information.

Further update:  A further Korean media article from February 2021 reported that this service had closed down again.  However, my correspondent reports that it is indeed currently still operating, at least between Vladivostok & Korea if not to Japan, and without passengers due to the pandemic.  It may resume in full after the pandemic, we'll see.

April 2021

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

New classes & fares structure in Spain...

Renfe will be playing around with its classes yet again from June.  Having changed Turista, Preferente & Club to Turista, Turista Plus & Preferente, from summer 2021 Turista will become Standard and Turista Plus/Preferente will become Comfort.  A new fares structure will be introduced with 3 fare types, Basic (the cheapest), Choose (the most flexible) and Premium, (all-inclusive), more about this here:  www.euroweeklynews.com.

New sleeper train from 2022:  Brussels/Amsterdam to Berlin & Prague!

A new company started by two Dutch/Belgian entrepreneurs plans to run a sleeper train from Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam & Amsterdam to Berlin, Dresden & Prague.  European Sleeper (www.europeansleeper.eu) anticipates running their first train in April 2022, initially 3 times a week with daily operation the ultimate goal.

My guess at rough timings is Brussels dep. 19:00, Amsterdam dep. 23:00, Berlin arr. 06:00, Dresden 08:15, Prague 10:30.

And westbound, Prague dep. 18:30, Dresden dep. 21:00, Berlin dep. 23:00, Amsterdam arr. 06:00, Brussels arr. 09:45.

This is based on information that the train will arrive Berlin around 06:00 and leave around 23:00 westbound.  It's thus clear that Berlin is a prime objective of this new train, unlike its predecessor the Amsterdam-Prague/Warsaw City Night Line which passed through Berlin at 4am, too early for most travellers, and left Berlin between midnight & 1am westbound.  Antwerp & Rotterdam are also interesting inclusions - as far as I can recall, Rotterdam hasn't had a sleeper train since Hoek of Holland lost its sleepers in the 1990s.

European Sleeper's masterstroke is to have partnered with established Czech open-access operator Regiojet (www.regiojet.com) who will be providing rolling stock (couchette cars & seats cars, but no sleeping-cars) and hauling the train in Germany & the Czech Republic.  SNCB will provide haulage in Belgium, their haulage partner in the Netherlands is yet to be announced. 

The seats cars will include Standard, Standard (Astra), Relax and Business classes, see Regiojet classes here.  I would speculate that the couchettes will be used as 4-berth sleeping compartments, with sole occupancy available for 1-3 people at less than the cost of 4 tickets, as has been Regiojet's practice on their successful Prague-Croatia sleeper train, but all such details have yet to be announced.  It's possible some couchette cars will be used as 'pseudo-sleeping-cars with full bedding, set up with 1, 2 or 3 bunks on one side of the compartment, a sofa on the other side, as that is what Regiojet do on their Prague-Slovakia night train.  Regiojet own some cars capable of carrying bikes, but it's not known if such cars will be included in this train.

The full Regiojet on-board service will be provided, meaning complimentary Illy coffee & bottled water, free WiFi and extensive at-seat menu, hopefully at Regiojet's Czech prices.  I believe that partnering with Regiojet gives great credibility to this new service, and sorts on-board service and ticket distribution at a stroke.  Let's see if European Sleeper & Regiojet can together replicate the success of Regiojet's Prague-Croatia sleeper.

Update:  Requested timings have been spotted on a Czech infrastructure website.  These suggest Oostende depart 18:04, Bruges 18:19, Brussels Midi 19:16, Amsterdam 21:59, Berlin Hbf arrive 05:51, Dresden 07:41, Prague 09:56.  And yes, the train will now serve Oostende, Bruges & Ghent as well as Brussels!  Westbound, Prague dep. 19:10, Dresden dep. 21:27, Berlin dep. 23:20, Amsterdam arr. 06:01, Brussels Midi 08:44, Bruges 09:41, Oostende 09:56.

You wait years for a Brussels-Berlin sleeper then 3 turn up at once...

Literally within an hour of today's European Sleeper's announcement, another company founded by Belgian entrepreneurs announced plans for a Brussels/Liege-Berlin night train.  Moonlight Express (moonlightexpress.eu) also plan an April 2022 start, apparently separately from European Sleeper, and of course BB plan a Brussels/Paris-Berlin/Vienna Nightjet from December 2023, possibly with their new Nightjet trains being built by Siemens.  I've been told European Sleeper and Moonlight Express have indeed been talking to each other about the obvious overlap.

Moonlight Express will be all-sleeping accommodation (no sit-up-all-night seats) and will feature a bistro car.  It will leave Brussels around 20:00 and arrive Berlin around 08:00, using classic lines.  It will have both couchettes and sleeping-cars, leased from RDC, see www.rdc-deutschland.de/rdc-asset-gmbh.  It too will initially run 3 times a week, starting April 2022, with Eurostar connections to/from London.  RDC-Deutchland is also supplying couchettes & sleeping-cars for SBB's Amsterdam-Zurich sleeper from December 2021, I would speculate that Amsterdam-Zurich might nab RDC's MUn sleepers (enough for 2 per train plus spare) with Moonlight Express getting RDC's AB33 ex-T2s sleeping-cars also enough for two per train, though it could be the other way round!

With Brussels-Vienna already on the books and a Brussels-Copenhagen being tendered and due to start from August 2022, Brussels is indeed looking like a night train hub, with Eurostar connections from London...

March 2021

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

Prague-Vienna & Prague-Budapest trains diverted...

From 6 April 2021 for a couple of years, Prague-Vienna and Prague-Bratislava-Budapest trains are being diverted via the slower route through Havlčkův Brod while their normal route through Česk Třebov is upgraded.  This adds 25 minutes to the journey.  I have now updated the timings on this site - I think I have found them all, let me know if I've missed one!  The Vienna-Berlin Vindobona and Budapest-Berlin Hungaria now by-pass Prague Hlavni, making up the time lost by the slower route, so end to end timings aren't affected.

Seat61.com is 20 years old today...

Has the internet really been around that long?  I registered the domain name seat61.com 20 years ago today, on 21 March 2001.  Only because I had managed to get a webpage online and thought it would be fun.  I never expected it to become my full-time job, which it did in 2007.  Read more about how & why I started 61 on the About me page.

Train travel in Egypt...

I have just thoroughly overhauled and improved the Train travel in Egypt page, thanks to photos taken by Koen of paliparan.com.  Not only did I enjoy following his visit to Egypt on Twitter, he has generously allowed me to use some of his photos to illustrate Cairo Ramses station and the different types of Egyptian train, and it inspired me to dig deeper into a subject that is not always well covered on the internet.  I now explain how to use 3rd part apps on your smartphone to find train times, given the shortcomings of the Egyptian National Railways website which only shows air-con express trains, and only major stations.  I have pored over photos & videos to explain the layout and platform arrangements of Cairo station.  That page is now what I hope is the best guide to Egyptian train travel on the net - well, that's what I've aimed at, anyway!

February 2021

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

Return of the Paris-Nice Train Bleu...

President Macron wants eco-friendly night trains to return, and he's promised to restore the Paris-Nice and Paris-Biarritz/Hendaye/Lourdes/Tarbes Intercit de nuit.  It seems the Paris-Nice Intercit de nuit, the train originally called the Train Bleu, may return as early as 29 March 2021.  Watch this space!

Odds & ends this month...


January 2021

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

Updating European train times for the 2021 timetable...

With multiple lockdowns in various countries, I've more or loess given up trying to keep up with day to day changes in train service (let alone travel restrictions!), instead I'm concentrating on overhauling and improving all the European pages for when travel resumes.  With no urgency to get the timetable update done quickly this year, I'm taking my time so please bear with me, Seat 61 should emerge an even better guide to train travel once we can all travel again, particularly the city to city pages where I am adding missing routes and extra options.


December 2020

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page

Though with multiple lockdowns in various countries, I have given up trying to keep up with this for the next month or two...

Covid-19:  A strange Seat 61 timetable update...

On Seat 61 I aim to show the 'clean' timetable so people can plan their journeys, often without a specific date in mind and often beyond the period for which trains are open for booking.  The 'clean' timetable is the normal timetable that usually applies on any given day, all other things being equal.  The 'dirty' timetable is the actual timetable for each specific date in the year with alterations due to engineering work, flood, fire, landslip or strike, some known way in advance, some applied short term.

The line between 'clean' and 'dirty' is already blurred, for example long-term repair work in the Karawanks Tunnel this year means the Munich-Zagreb sleeper is cancelled until July, and the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper is diverted not calling at Ljubljana and a later arrival in Zagreb.  Such long-term planned work effectively becomes part of the 'clean' timetable and I attempt to show this on Seat 61.  However, Covid-19 alterations have taken the quest for the 2021 'clean' timetable to a whole new level...

The German, Austrian and Czech railways make it easy for me in much of central Europe.  The Germans load timetable data for the whole year (13 Dec 2020 to 11 Dec 2021) which I can see using their all-Europe online timetable at bahn.de/en - even beyond the 60/90/120/180 day period for which European trains are open for booking.  Furthermore, they load the complete normal timetable, then remove any trains they aren't running due to covid-19 for the actual period they think they won't be running them, in other words the next 2-3 months.  So by looking at dates from around April onwards I can see the 'clean' timetable without covid-19 service reductions - assuming of course I check that I've picked a 'typical' date to look at, not an odd one with a temporary alteration!

The French Railways make it difficult.  Their own website only shows trains up to their booking horizon 92 days from now.  Using bahn.de/en I can see what they have loaded into MERITS, but they only load data until July.  And they are only loading the trains they plan to run during the pandemic, so even if I look in July all I can see is one morning Paris-Barcelona TGV as that's all that's running now, even though I know perfectly well that the 'clean' timetable has 2 trains each way all year and 2 additionals in summer.  So on Seat 61 I'm still going to show 2 TGVs each way for 2021, with a question mark over the additionals, and have had to assume that the timings of the missing afternoon TGV remains as per 2020.

Similarly, Trenitalia seem to have a very odd morning service from Milan to Bari at the moment (important on Seat 61 for ferry connections to Greece & Albania).  An 07:05 Intercity taking 10 hours?  Really??  Where's the fast 07:35 Frecciarossa?  Looks to me like a covid-19 temporary timetable.  But looking a little further ahead I see no morning trains at all which means the data is almost certainly still incomplete, knowing that Trenitalia often loads random blocks of trains at a time with whole parts of the day's service missing.  And looking even further ahead, trying to find a post-pandemic normal timetable, there are no trains at all, so that doesn't help.  In Spain, the situation is similar, with trains such as the afternoon San Sebastian to Madrid Alvia missing due to covid-19 but no way to find the 'clean' timetable that the current reduced service is reduced from.

So...  I am over half way through updating the site for 2021, in readiness for an end or at least easing of this awful pandemic at some point.  I have already integrated the known major changes for 2021, such as the extension of the Dusseldorf-Munich/Innsbruck/Vienna Nightjet to Amsterdam. the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet 3 times a week, and the new faster more frequent service between Zurich & Munich (and not forgetting the Karawanks tunnel closure!).  I have implemented most of the easy-to-confirm timing changes for Germany/Austria/Czech/central Europe, thanks to Bahn.de/en.

However, for France, Italy, Spain I have had to make a lot of assumptions that the 'clean' timetable for 2021 remains similar to previous years.  And of course data for the extremities - Belgrade-Sofia, Bucharest-Istanbul, Warsaw-Vilnius - almost never appears before the timetable change date in any case, so they always get confirmed last, often after the new timetable period has already started!  There's also a big question mark over Nice-Milan, where the media is full of reports of Thello's demise, but Thello trains  have now appeared in the booking system for dates after 13 December, which is good, but Thello themselves are steadfastly refusing to say anything about what's happening.

The excellent printed European Rail Timetable often helps here.  But the winter edition has been deferred until January.  I wonder if they've had similar problems?

Finally, Eurostar:  I'm not even sure they've bothered compiling a 'clean' timetable for 2021, they having a tough time of it and making up a timetable week by week, in lockdown running just 1 train per day to Paris and 1 to Brussels & Amsterdam.  So I've made it easy for myself, and left the 2020 Eurostar timings as the 'clean' timetable for 2021, anticipating that a revived post-pandemic timetable will be broadly similar to that.

Fingers crossed that we'll all be able to do at least some travelling in the second half of 2021!

Timetable change in December:  What are the major changes?

As usual, the timetable changes across Europe on the 2nd Saturday in December.

Odds & ends this months...


November 2020

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page...

Though with multiple lockdowns in various countries, I have given up trying to keep up with this for the next month or two...

Timetable change in December:  What are the major changes?

As usual, the timetable changes across Europe on the 2nd Saturday in December.

Odds & ends this month...


October 2020

Coronavirus travel updates:  See the COVID-19 information page...

Timetable change in December:  What are the major changes?

As usual, the timetable changes across Europe on the 2nd Saturday in December.  Bookings for dates after the timetable change will open on 13 October for German trains, around the same time for Austrian trains, on 21 September for Thalys, and probably around that time for French trains. Significant changes expected from 13 Dec include:

- Sleeper trains return to Amsterdam!  The nightjet sleeper from Dusseldorf to Munich, Innsbruck & Vienna is extended to start in Amsterdam, every day.

- The Brussels-Vienna nightjet is increased in frequency from 2 per week to 3.  However, there won't be a Brussels-Munich/Innsbruck portion any more.

- The Berlin-Wroclaw-Katowice-Krakow EuroCity train Wawel is finally reinstated.

- Zurich-Munich EuroCity trains will be replaced by bullet-nosed ETR610 trains, frequency will be doubled to 6 trains per day each way & journey time cut to 4 hours, with further cuts in journey time to come.

- Zurich-Milan EuroCity trains have journey time cut from 3h40 to 3h17 by the new Ceneri Base Tunnel, with frequency increased from 6 trains per day to 10.

- 3 additional Vienna-Budapest train pairs means departures every hour, no longer any gaps during the day.

- Thello day trains Nice-Milan look set to be withdrawn, so you'll need to change at Ventimiglia and buy two tickets.

- It's looking like the Belgrade-Sofia direct train won't run in summer 2021.

Thello set to withdraw Nice-Milan trains...

Thello is unlikely ever to resume its Paris-Milan-Venice sleeper train, and has now said it is likely to withdraw its Nice-Genoa-Milan daytime trains from 2021 too.  That means going back to French TER trains running from Nice to Ventimiglia and Trenitalia Intercity trains running Ventimiglia-Genoa-Milan, making everyone change trains at the border and buy two tickets.  This is utterly crazy - if European train operators cannot get their act together, they don't deserve to succeed.  It remains to be seen if this also means the end of the planned Milan-Paris daytime Frecciarossa trains, which have been on test in France.

Odds & ends this month...


September 2020

Coronavirus:  See the COVID-19 travel information page...

The travel situation is explained on the COVID-19 information page.  Trains are running pretty normally in much of Europe, but there are restrictions for UK & other travellers.

Timetable change in December:  What are the major changes?

As usual, the timetable changes across Europe on the 2nd Saturday in December.  Bookings for dates after the timetable change will open on 13 October for German trains, around the same time for Austrian trains, on 21 September for Thalys, and probably around that time for French trains. Significant changes expected from 13 Dec include:

- Sleeper trains return to Amsterdam!  The nightjet sleeper from Dusseldorf to Munich, Innsbruck & Vienna is extended to start in Amsterdam, every day.

- The Brussels-Vienna nightjet is increased in frequency from 2 per week to 3.  However, there won't be a Brussels-Munich/Innsbruck portion any more.

- The Berlin-Wroclaw-Katowice-Krakow EuroCity train Wawel is finally reinstated.

- Zurich-Munich EuroCity trains will be replaced by bullet-nosed ETR610 trains, frequency will be doubled to 6 trains per day each way & journey time cut to 4 hours, with further cuts in journey time to come.

- Zurich-Milan EuroCity trains have journey time cut from 3h40 to 3h17 by the new Ceneri Base Tunnel, with frequency increased from 6 trains per day to 10.

- 3 additional Vienna-Budapest train pairs means departures every hour, no longer any gaps during the day.

Interrail & Eurail global passes go mobile...

From 21 September, Interrail & Eurail global passes are available as 'mobile' passes which sit in an app on your smartphone - as well as in classic printed form. No postage costs or delivery delay with a mobile pass! FAQs are here: www.interrail.eu/.../interrail.../mobile-pass-faq.  A key requirement is to connect the app to the internet at least every 3 days to update it and keep the pass valid. I doubt this is a big deal. But the timezone thing, where a midnight to midnight pass day is always measured in Central European Time even when you're in a country where CET-1 or CET+1 applies - a thing I think only applies to these new mobile passes - looks like it might cause some fun & games! They launched a mobile version of the single-country pass for Italy a little while ago, so have been gaining experience with that. This is the most important pass, the global one covering all the participating countries. And don't ask me why a pass covering much of Europe is called 'global'. It just is, OK?!

Regiojet's summer Prague-Rijeka night train a massive success...

Regiojets Prague-Rijeka night train has been a massive success: 60,000 passengers have been carried, 90% occupancy on a 500-passenger train.  This one train has achieved a 6% market share of all travel between the Czech Republic and Croatia.  10% of passengers were to or from Bratislava, 90% to or from the Czech Republic.  Itll return in summer 2021 with a longer season starting from May.  See press article (in Czech).

Odds & ends this month...

 


August 2020

Coronavirus update.  See the COVID-19 information page...

I'll continue to update the train travel situation on the COVID-19 information page.  We can now travel freely to much of Europe...

At last!  Direct Amsterdam to London Eurostars to start from 26 October.

Eurostar have been running direct eastbound trains from London to Amsterdam since April 2018, but have been unable to operate direct eastbound trains from Amsterdam to London because the necessary agreements were not in place to do border formalities and Tunnel security in Rotterdam and Amsterdam Centraal.  This was due to be resolved and direct westbound Eurostars start on 30 April this year.  However, coronavirus intervened and this was postponed.  I'm glad to say that inwards Amsterdam to Lon don Eurostars will finally start from 26 October, with border formalities undertaken in the new Eurostar terminal at the end of platform 15 at Amsterdam Centraal and in the new Eurostar terminal at Rotterdam Centraal.

Sleeper trains return to Amsterdam in December!

It's now confirmed that with the December timetable change BB (Austrian Railways) will extend its Dusseldorf-Munich/Innsbruck/Vienna Nightjet to start in Amsterdam, also calling at Utrecht and Arnhem.  In more good news, the twice-weekly Brussels-Munich/Innsbruck/Vienna Nightjet will become 3 times a week.  On the days it doesn't run, the 11:04 London to Amsterdam Eurostar will allow one-change connection with the Amsterdam Nightjet instead.

It's also reported SBB (Swiss Railways) are planning to reinstate an Amsterdam to Zurich sleeper, from December 2021.

BB has 13 7-car sleeper trains on order from Siemens, to replace older cars that don't meet stringent new Italian regulations, releasing good-quality existing cars for other routes including increased capacity and possible new routes.  BB have now been allowed to order 20 more such trains, and their CEO has said he'd like to run a Vienna-Paris sleeper from 2024.

Meanwhile, the Swedish government is pressing ahead with a tender for a new sleeper train from  Malmo & Copenhagen to Cologne and possibly Brussels to start from August 2022.

How risky is a train journey?

Preliminary research by @RSSB_rail suggests chance of getting COVID-19 from a train journey is just 1 in 11,000. That's without factoring in face coverings.  It also seems that air-con carriages are better than non-air-con ones. See my Twitter feed, twitter.com/seatsixtyone.

Regiojet extends Prague-Vienna trains to Budapest...

Two Regiojet trains per day from Prague to Vienna have been extended to Budapest from 31 July, in competition with the existing trains run by the national rail operators.  Fares from Prague to Budapest from 16, Vienna to Budapest from 9.  I've updated the relevant pages to show this new cheap option.

 


July 2020

Coronavirus update.  See the COVID-19 information page...

I'll continue to update the train travel situation on the COVID-19 information page.  We may soon be able to travel...

Brits can now travel abroad!

From 10 July (or even from 4 July, if you don't plan to return to the UK before 10 July), UK nationals can freely visit France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland. even for tourism, without restriction.   Eurostar is running (albeit with a reduced but increasing service) and most European train services are almost back to normal.  For details of what's changed, what you can now do, and what trains are and aren't running, see the COVID-19 information page,

Eurostar increases fares, but with new flexibility...

Eurostar fares from London to Paris & Brussels increased from 1 July from their long-standing cheapest rates of 46 one-way, 58 return to a new cheapest fare of 52 one-way & 78 return.  I have now updated seat61 to reflect that.  However, until the end of this year, all Eurostar fares can be changed to another departure or date with no change fee (just the difference in fare) up until 14 days before departure.  This is to give people more confidence booking during the pandemic.

No direct Eurostar to the South of France in 2020 or 2021...

Eurostar have said it will not run it's direct train from London to Lyon, Avignon or Marseille either this year or (more surprisingly) next year.  They cite the difficulty of running a longer-distance train without catering and with compulsory mask wearing during the pandemic.

Regiojet's Prague-Bratislava-Ljubljana/Rijeka sleeper train a rip-roaring success...

Regiojet's new overnight train from Prague & Bratislava to Ljubljana & Rijeka has surprised even the operator themselves.  30,000 tickets were sold to Czech holidaymakers within days of tickets going on sale, and many departures are now sold out - and that's with 560-seat/berth trains.  Regiojet have reacted by increasing departures from 3 times per week to every day.  See www.railjournal.com/regions/europe/regiojet.

 


June 2020

Coronavirus update.  See the COVID-19 information page...

Russia & Belarus sign visa agreement...

At long last, Russia & Belarus have agreed that from 1 July 2020 they will recognise each other's visas.  You'll be able to get a Russian visa, and this will also cover you for entering and crossing Belarus to reach Moscow.  First, this removes the current technical illegality of travelling to Russia via Belarus - it had been officially illegal, but tolerated (mostly) if you used the direct Russian trains from Paris-Berlin, Warsaw or Prague to Moscow.  Second, you'll now only need one visa not two, removing the a major hassle of obtaining a second visa to cover transit through Belarus.

Trans-Siberian changes from July...

In the midst of the COVID-19 disruption, Russian domestic trains are still running and a significant change will affect Moscow-Vladivostok train 1/2, the famous Rossiya, from July 2020.

Train 1/2 Rossiya has always been the fastest train between Moscow & Vladivostok, taking 7 nights.  Currently it only runs every two days and there is a second slower train between Moscow & Vladivostok, train 99/100 running every day, making around 70 more station stops than the Rossiya and taking 8 nights.  Train 99/100 has been gradually re-equipped with the very latest cars, and from 9 July 2020 this slower train 99/100 will be renumbered 1/2 and become the Rossiya, whilst the former faster train 1/2 will be renumbered 61/62 and become nameless.

So travellers now have a choice between riding the famous Rossiya, train 1 westbound & train 2 eastbound with daily departures and the latest rolling stock, but taking 8 nights, or riding nameless train 61/62 running only 3 days a week with slightly older rolling stock, but with 70 fewer stops, taking only 7 nights from Moscow to Vladivostok and saving a whole day & night.  Personally, I'd take the Rossiya, for the name as well as the hot shower in every car!

 


April 2020

Coronavirus update...

Since 17 March, the UK Foreign Office advises against all non-essential travel from the UK to anywhere globally, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.  Everyone is advised to stay at home...

Most European & worldwide countries are now in lockdown, with no international trains and reduced domestic trains.  Only EU citizens are allowed to enter the EU.

To check which countries have closed their borders, which countries require you to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival & so on, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

With everywhere affected worldwide, I won't be putting individual warning notes on all 367 pages on this site, so for real time info in a very fluid situation, please check the website of the relevant train operator or ask your ticket retailer.

Tip:  If you run an enquiry on the relevant journey planner (the one you'd normally use to buy tickets for that particular route or train), if you see prices and can buy tickets then it's running, if it says cancelled or doesn't show up, it isn't running.  You'll find  a more detailed list of what's running and what's not here.

Eurostar is still running a skeleton service between London and Paris/Brussels, just 1 or 2 services a day for essential travel by UK/EU residents only.  No direct trains to/from Amsterdam.

Brittany Ferries has suspended all sailings UK-France. DFDS has suspended their Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry.

Many European cross-border trains suspended.  Reduced train service in most European countries.

Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Canada, USA all running drastically reduced train services, cross-border trains (including Trans-Siberian trains between Russia, Mongolia & China all suspended until further notice.

 


March 2020

Coronavirus update...

From 17 March, the UK Foreign Office advise against all non-essential travel from the UK to anywhere globally, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Many European & worldwide countries are now in lockdown, with no international trains and reduced domestic trains.  Only EU/UK citizens are allowed to enter the EU.  To check which countries have closed their borders, which countries require you to self-isolate for a fortnight on arrival, and so on, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

With everywhere affected worldwide, I won't be putting individual warning notes on all 367 pages on this site, so for real time info in a very fluid situation, please ask your ticket retailer and/or check the website of the relevant train operator. 

Tip:  If you run an enquiry on the relevant journey planner (the one you'd normally use to buy tickets for that particular route or train), if you see prices and can buy tickets then it's running, if it says cancelled or doesn't show up, it isn't running.  You'll find  a more detailed list of what's running and what's not here.

Odds & ends this month...

 


February 2020

Irun - Vigo Camino de Santiago...

The long-established Camino de Santiago intercity train between Bilbao/Irun and Vigo/A Coruna is to be withdrawn from 3 March 2020 due to asbestos being found in the vehicles used on this service.  It's now the only remaining conventional locomotive-hauled train in Spain, all others being high-speed train, or electric or diesel multiple units, or articulated Talgo/Altaria trains.  It's not clear if Renfe have any intention of replacing it with alternative stock, either immediately or even in due course.  Update:  It now seems the train will be replaced with an articulated Talgo train, with two classes and a cafeteria.  As such, it'll be an improvement, although the train will run Irun & San Sebastian to Santiago & A Coruna, with a separate connection from Bilbao and a connection to Vigo.

South Africa halts trains...

The rail safety authority has issued a directive which has forced Shosholoza Meyl to halt all long-distance trains in South Africa, including Shosholoza Meyl and Premier Classe.  It's supposed to be temporary, but not clear how long this will last.

Corona virus halts trains...

Trans-Siberian trains to & from China, the Hanoi-Nanning train, and all trains between Hong Kong and mainland China are all halted temporarily this month due to the Corona Virus.

DBS ferry Vladivostok-Korea-Japan ceases...

The ferry linking Vladivostok with South Korea and Japan has ceased operation, reportedly permanently.  To reach Japan you now need to divert via Beijing and one of the Chinese ports - of would do, were it not for the Corona Virus at the moment.  This is not the first time this ferry has ceased operations.  FESCO, which I travelled with in 1998 and which started life under the USSR, gave up, to be replaced a while afterwards by this DBS ferry.  It's always possible some ferry with be resurrected in due course, but not in the immediate future perhaps.

Direct Amsterdam-London Eurostars start 30 April!

Eurostars have been running direct trains from London to Amsterdam for almost 2 years now, but in the inwards direction passengers have had to take a Thalys from Amsterdam to Brussels, go through normal Eurostar check-in at Brussels Midi, then take a Eurostar from Brussels to London.  Agreements with Dutch, Belgian and UK authorities are now in place for passport and check-in to happen in the Netherlands, and Eurostar have finally announced that direct Amsterdam to London trains will start on 30 April, with Rotterdam to London journeys possible from 18 May as they still have some work to do on the Eurostar terminal at Rotterdam Centraal.  Tickets go on sale from 11 February.  There will be two direct Amsterdam to London Eurostars per day, soon rising to three, then four and hopefully from December 2020, five.  I rode the press preview train on 4 February, taking just over 4 hours city centre to city centre.

Brussels-Vienna/Munich/Innsbruck sleeper train is go...

The first direct Nightjet sleeper train from Brussels to Vienna, Munich & Innsbruck left on 20 January, with the Man in Seat 61 on board (but of course!).   This excellent new train is initially twice a week, Monday & Thursday from Brussels, Sunday and Wednesday in the other direction, and not in July & August, but it should become daily all year from the timetable change in December when an Amsterdam portion should also start.

Odds & ends this month...

 


January 2020

Eurail & Interrail pass changes...

The Eurail team based in Utrecht have made more positive changes to the range of Eurail passes (for overseas visitors) and Interrail passes (for European residents).

 


December 2019

New high-speed line opened to the Great Wall of China...

The new Beijing North to Zhangjiakou high-speed line opened on 30 December, with an underground high-speed station at Badaling for the Great Wall.  I've yet to add any detail, as none of the English-0language booking sites yet list Badaling Changcheng or show these new trains, but this will come in due course.  I still think a turn-up-and-go trip on the historic line is a nicer experience, but why not go one way out and back the other?  See the Great Wall of China page.

Rail & Sail services to Belfast via Cairnryan slashed to one a day...

Stena Line has withdrawn two out of three daily round trips by its transfer bus between Ayr and the ferry terminal at Cairnryan, which means that the three daily rail & sail services between Scotland and Belfast are cut to just one a day.  Half a dozen ferry departures still operate daily, frequent trains still run between Glasgow and Ayr, yet these journey opportunities disappear for the lack of an Ayr-Cairnryan transfer bus to link train with ferry.  At a time more people want to avoid flying, this is unacceptable.  The remaining one service a day can be seen on the Northern Ireland page.

New timetable from 15 December 2019...

As always, all European timetables change at midnight on the 2nd Saturday in December.  I have started updating this site, although some information will remain to be updated until nearer the time.  Here's a list of significant changes...

Odds & ends this month...

 


November 2019

DBS ferry Vladivostok-Korea-Japan in danger?...

One report suggests this ferry service won't run from now until February 2020, and may not even resume then.  This is allegedly down to worsening Korea-Japan relations.  It will still be possible to use the Trans-Siberian to reach Japan, but this will mean going via Beijing and Shanghai, with an extra visa required.

Loco2 rebranded as Raileurope.com...

At 06:00 on 5 November, Loco2.com rebranded as Raileurope.com.  Same system, same connectivity, same excellent support staff in London.  Not to be confused with Raileurope.com in the USA & Canada, or Raileurope 4A serving Asia, Africa, Australia, South America.  It's all explained here...

New timetable from 15 December 2019...

As always, all European timetables change at midnight on the 2nd Saturday in December.  I have started updating this site, although some information will remain to be updated until nearer the time.  Here's a list of significant changes...

Odds & ends this month...

 


October 2019

End of DB First Class Lounges from 15 Dec 2019.

Not really the end, of course, but it may as well be.  From 15 December, you can no longer access DB first class lounges with any form of advance-purchase Sparpreis or Supersparpreis 1st class fare, only the most expensive full-flex Flexpreis 1st class fares.  Which really just restricts them to German businessmen. I will try to show an alternative 'lounge' at main interchange points in the form of a cafe, bar, restaurant in or near the station that can be used between trains.

DB Sparpreis London to be discontinued from January 2020.

DB (German Railways) is being forced to discontinue its Sparpreis London through tickets between London and Germany, Basel & Salzburg, originally from November 2019, now with a stay of execution until mid-January 2020.  DB say this is due to Eurostar 'changing its systems' so it is unable to access the necessary seat reservations on Eurostar.

This means that journeys between London and Germany can no longer be made on through tickets from 59.90 (or 69.90 for longer journeys such as London Munich or Berlin).  Instead, you'll need a normal Eurostar ticket London-Brussels from 44 one-way or 58 return then a Sparpreis Belgium fare from Brussels to Germany (Brussels-Cologne from 19, Frankfurt from 29).

The increase in cost will be much more significant that these cheapest prices suggest for those passengers booking weeks rather than months ahead.  That's because Eurostar raise their own fares very sharply as departure date approaches, whereas although the Sparpreis London fares rise too, they rise much less sharply, so travel to Germany remains affordable and competitive with flights.

Not only will this increase the cost of train travel to Germany, it affects passenger rights if one of the tight 20-minute connections in Brussels is missed.  With a through ticket, passengers have a cast-iron right to later onward travel at no charge if there's a delay and missed connection, including the right to a hotel if the last train of the day is missed.  With separate tickets there is no such cast-iron protection, only the Railteam Promise (which doesn't include provision for a hotel if the last train is missed) and Agreement on Journey Continuation (AJC) apply, which are commercial arrangements between operators rather than actual passenger rights.  Indeed, I believe Eurostar isn't even a signatory to the AJC, it has just said it will apply it in practice.

The EU Transport Committee is in the final stages of agreeing changes to passenger rights to provide protection for missed connections for passengers making through journeys even with separate tickets, yet European train operators are lobbying hard against it passing the final stage into law.  Here we see operators circumventing existing passenger rights by discontinuing through tickets and forcing people to buy separate ones.  The improvement in passenger rights to cover separate tickets is desperately needed if the rail network is to continue to be a network, and it multi-stage multi-operator journeys are not to become too risky.

DB have said they are working with Eurostar to make ticket buying as easy as possible from November onwards, and to agree arrangements for those connections in Brussels.  Eurostar have said that they are committed to this market and hope to work out a solution with DB.  I certainly hope something sensible emerges.  This is a massive backward step for international train travel.

Caledonian Sleeper's old trains bow out...

The old Mk3 sleepers of 1980s vintage finally bowed out on 8 October. From 9 October, Caledonian Sleeper finally introduced its new Mk5 sleeper trains on its Highland route, meaning both its Lowland and Highland trains are entirely composed of the new vehicles.  See the Caledonian Sleeper page.

Hoek of Holland metro finally operational...

The metro train service between Hoek van Holland and Schiedam Centrum is finally operational as from 30 September, as the project to convert the heavy rail line to light rail is completed.  The temporary replacement bus service which has been running for two years will continue for a month as a backup, and will then be withdrawn.  I have updated the UK-Netherlands page and the Harwich-Hoek sections on the UK-Germany, UK-Austria pages and so on.

Passholder reservations on Nightjet sleepers now possible online...

I'm delighted that Eurail & Interrail pass reservations can now be made online at the Austrian Railways website.  I have added instructions here.

Odds & ends this month...

 


September 2019

New extra-large suitcase rules in Japan from May 2020...

From May 2020, new 'extra large luggage' rules will apply to the Tokaido, Kyushu & Sanyo shinkansen lines.  Passengers with very large suitcases over 160 linear centimetres (linear cm = length + width + depth) will have to reserve a place for their suitcase at the same time they reserve their shinkansen seat.  This will be free of charge, but there'll be a 1000 yen ($9) fine if they don't.  This won't affect backpacks (or for that matter any bag I personally ever travel with), just the largest oversize cases.  I have added a warning to the Japan page.  More info at www.tsunagujapan.com/large-suitcases-shinkansen-policy.

New page:  The Canadian...

The first output from my trip to Canada in August, I have added a new page dedicated to the Toronto-Winnipeg-Vancouver Canadian, replacing an all-too-brief section within the Canada page.  As always, feedback and comments are gratefully received.

The trip to Canada has now also allowed me to significantly improve the Rocky Mountaineer page and New York to Toronto section of the Canada page.

Raileurope.com to rebrand as Rail Europe in November...

Raileurope.com was bought by SNCF (French Railways) some time ago and they have now announced that it will be rebranded as Rail Europe from 6 November 2019.  More specifically, it will reappear as Raileurope.com, in German as Raileurope.de, Spanish as Raileurope.es and Italian as Raileurope.it.

There may be some confusion, as Raileurope.com will remain the website of Rail Europe Inc. based in New York serving the US and Canadian markets which is another separate SNCF subsidiary.  Raileurope-world.com and Raileurope.com.au will remain the websites of yet another separate SNCF subsidiary, Rail Europe 4A based in Paris and serving Asia, Africa, Australia and South America (hence the 4A).  Americans, Canadians, Africans, Asians & Australians who want to continue to enjoy Raileurope.com's features, facilities & capabilities will have to use Raileurope.com and avoid being diverted elsewhere.

Unfortunately, a 4.95 booking fee has now been introduced.  It applies to your whole basket, not to each ticket, so it will pay to do all your tickets as one payment.  It will take me some time to weed out every mention of 'no booking fee or mark-up' on this site whenever I mention Raileurope.com, please bear with me!

The Ankara-Tehran Trans-Asia Express resumes!

It was suspended in 2015 due to security concerns in eastern Turkey but now it's back.  The weekly Trans-Asia Express between Ankara and Tehran resumed in August 2019, and is now shown on the Iran page.

Odds & ends this month...

 


July & August 2019

Follow me on Twitter for another epic journey on 11 August...

On 11 August I'll be setting off from London Waterloo and travelling 7,032 miles for a cup of tea.  You'll be able to follow my progress on Twitter (It'll be a jolly good cup of tea...)

A new dawn for train travel in Cuba?...

This weekend (14 July) the first tranche of brand-new Chinese-built trainsets go into service on all major long-distance routes in Cuba, with air-conditioning and cafeteria.  Journey times have been cut with fewer intermediate stops, and frequencies increased.  More new cars will arrive in 2020 and 2021.  New timetable & fares shown on the Cuba page.

Paris-Milan TGVs stopped by landslide...

Paris-Turin-Milan TGVs are cancelled until (probably) 15 August due to a mudslide near Modane blocking the line.  SNCF are offering postponement or refunds.  What people really want is diversion, but this means new tickets!  The route to Milan via Lausanne or Basel is open.  Update:  Line reopened & trains are running again from 23 July.

Istanbul - Ankara sleeper train reinstated...

After a gap of some years, the Ankara Express sleeper train is reinstated between Istanbul & Ankara.  It will run from Halkali through the Marmaray tunnel, best boarded at Istanbul Sğtleşme station.  It has TVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2 bed compartments) and pullman reclining seats.  See the Train travel in Turkey page.

Odds & ends this month...

 


June 2019

New train from Turkey to Tehran...

The weekly train from Van to Tabriz with an elderly couchette car introduced in June 2018 has been replaced by a weekly direct train between Van & Tehran with first class 4-berth sleeping-cars and catering.  Details now shown on the Iran page.  This restores direct service between Turkey & Tehran for the first time since the Trans-Asia Express was suspended in 2015.

Bangkok-Aranyaprathet trains extended to the Cambodian border...

In Thailand, the morning and afternoon local trains between Bangkok & Aranyaprathet have been extended 5km to the new station at Ban Klong Luk on the border with Cambodia, just 200m walk from the Thai border checkpoint.  This saves the 100 baht tuk tuk ride from Aranyaprathet to the border post, and presumably will save tourists being driven to agency offices and overcharged for Cambodian visas!  The Cambodia page has been updated.

High-speed trains start running to Granada...

After engineering work that has lasted since 2015, high-speed trains to Granada have finally started, with several daily AVE trains between Madrid & Granada, and one per day Barcelona-Granada, leaving Barcelona at 06:50 westbound and Granada at 15:35 eastbound.  I have updated most of the relevant pages, including the UK to Spain by train page.

Odds & ends this month...

 


May 2019

TCDD introduce the Turistik Dogu Express

From 29 May, TCDD Turkish Railways introduce the "Turistik Dogu Express" from Ankara to Erzurum & Kars 3 times a week, all-sleeping-car + restaurant car, in addition to the original daily Dogu Express, which becomes reclining seats & couchettes only.  This is in response to the popularity of the original Dogu Express, which passes spectacular scenery in Eastern Turkey. After the journey was publicised in the Turkish press it became a rite of passage for young Turks, booked up almost as soon as booking opened.  The new Turistik Dogu Express will include a couple of longer stops for off-train visits. Fare TL 400 (51/59) single occupancy, TL 250 (32/37) per person for two sharing. Bargain!  See the Train travel in Turkey page.

Major speed-up in Greece...

From 20 May 2019 there's a massive speed-up in Greece as line upgrades kick in.  Athens-Thessaloniki (2 biggest cities in Greece) is slashed from 5h20 to 4h10, indeed southbound one morning train will take 3h57.  Fare 45 in 2nd or 55 in 1st class.  It's just a shame that the tortuous mountain part (with the viaducts blown up by SOE in WW2) is now by-passed. Though there will still be great views of Mt Olympus from the train!

New weekly Ankara - Tbilisi - Baku train to start in August...

The new railway between Kars in Turkey and Tbilisi in Georgia was formally inaugurated in October 2017, but passenger service has not yet started.  It's now been announced that a new new direct sleeper train will start running once a week between Ankara, Tbilisi & Baku from August 2019.  The train will have 4-berth economy sleepers, 4-berth comfort sleepers, 1 & 2 bed sleepers with en suite toilet & shower, and a restaurant car.  These cars have been built by Stadler in Switzerland and are now in Azerbaijan on test.  Fares & timetable will be posted on the Caucasus page when known.

Odds & ends this month...

 


April 2019

Belgrade-Greece train will run in summer 2019...

The Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki overnight train, cancelled indefinitely in October 2018, will run from 14 June to 15 September 2019.  I've updated the UK-Greece page, Trains from Athens and Trains from Belgrade pages to show this.

New Caledonian sleeper trains at last...

The all-new Caledonian Sleeper trains finally go into service on Sunday 28 April on the lowlander train between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow.  I'll be on board the first run from London to Edinburgh, getting photos and information for this site!

Thailand-Cambodia rail link inaugurated...

Officials from Thailand and Cambodia have formally inaugurated the cross-border railway between Aranyaprathet in Thailand and Poipet in Cambodia.  However, passenger service is only likely to start by the end of the year.


March 2019

Open air viewing cars on KiwiRail temporarily closed...

The open-air viewing cars on KiwiRails TranzAlpine, Northern Explorer and Coastal Pacific have been closed due to passengers leaning out.  Not sure why this is suddenly and issue after decades, but see www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/tranzalpine.

Marmaray Line opens...

It's reported that suburban trains in Istanbul were due to start running on 10 March between Halkali, Sirkeci, Pendik and Gebze.  If so, this makes getting to and from Halkali (for trains to Sofia/Bucharest) and Pendik (for train to Ankara and Konya) much easier.

High-speed trains to/from Ankara using Eryaman station...

High-speed YHT trains between Istanbul & Konya and Ankara are using Eryaman station 25km west of Ankara while signalising systems are replaced.

Odds & ends this month...

  • In New Zealand, it was planned to restore the Picton-Christchurch Coastal Pacific to running all year round.  This clearly hasn't happened, so I have updated the New Zealand page to show it as running late September to late April, i.e. New Zealand summer months only.

  • In Morocco, most conventional express trains have been branded Al Atlas and tickets now come with a seat reservation automatically included in both classes.  Until now, 2nd class tickets didn't guarantee a seat, as 2nd class seats were all unreserved.


February 2019

Trip to Hong Kong & China...

I made a flying trip to Hong Kong and China last week, day 1 checking out the Star Ferry (after last going on it 27 years ago) and the Kowloon-Guangzhou intercity through train, returning on the new high-speed link on an MTR Vibrant express.  Day 2 riding the Hong Kong to Beijing high-speed G80 train, 1516 miles in 8h56 (plus 17 minutes late!).  Day 3 riding the rails from Beijing to the Great Wall at Badaling.  The first output is a complete guide to visiting the Great Wall by train, see here.

Odds & ends this month...

  • Thetrainline.com are migrating to Thetrainline.com and are now charging a booking fee to non-Europeans based on the IP address you browse with.  If you live outside Europe, either use a VPN to browse with a European IP address or simply use Raileurope.com instead who charge no fees to anyone.  I was quite shocked at this - I couldn't understand why some overseas travellers were saying there was a fee until I used my new VPN to test it!

  • Thanks to traveller Art O Cathain I'm now able to show photos of the new Eksekutif Luxury class available between Jakarta & Surabaya on the daytime and overnight Argo Bromo Anggrek.


January 2019

Engineering work affects Budapest-Belgrade...

Work on rebuilding this dead straight but incredibly slow line for 200km/h operation continues, with Russian & Chinese support.  The ultimate goal is a 3 hour journey time, so we're told.  From 1 February probably until December (although one optimistic report says until April, and another 'for 6 months') the normal two daytime trains and one sleeper train are reduced to one daytime train, with switches of train at Kelebia and Novi Sad.  I have put warning notices on the London to Serbia & London to Bulgaria pages, and on the Trains from Budapest, Trains from Belgrade, Trains from Sofia, Trains from Vienna & Trains from Munich pages, but may not manage to get a warning on every relevant page for example Lisbon to Belgrade or Stockholm to Belgrade!  Update:  It now seems there will be no train or even bus between Novi Sad & Belgrade.  Better divert via Zagreb-Belgrade, which is unaffected.

Q&A with the Man in Seat 61 in the Daily Telegraph...

I wrote a Q&A for the travel section of the UK's Daily Telegraph, published on 11 January:  www.telegraph.co.uk/.../man-in-seat-61-interview.

Interrail & Eurail passes simplified & extended for 2019...

The Interrail & Eurail pass ranges are streamlined and aligned with each other for 2019.  The Interrail pass range for European residents and Eurail pass range for overseas visitors now virtually mirror each other in coverage, available pass periods, reservation requirements and even pricing.

Odds & Ends this month...

 

large bullet pointNews items from 2001 to 2018

For old news items from 2001 to 2018, see the news archive page...


Back to home page