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Night train extended to link Brussels and Amsterdam to Prague

Rail passengers will be able to leave Brussels or Amsterdam in the evening and wake up the next morning in Dresden or Prague – and vice versa – from March as Europe’s night train network continues to expand.

European Sleeper, whose night trains connecting the Belgian and Dutch capitals with Berlin began operating in May, said on Tuesday the service would be extended to Dresden in eastern Germany and on to the Czech capital from 25 March.

The Belgian-Dutch cooperative said Prague had always been the intended destination of its first sleeper service from Brussels, but it had opted initially to terminate it in Berlin because of major engineering works south of Dresden.

It would now be able to offer “an attractive timetable” with “well balanced arrival and departure times”, it said, allowing passengers to leave Brussels at 7.22pm and arrive in Prague at 10.56am after stops including Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Děčín in the Czech Republic.

European Sleeper is also planning a winter night train between Amsterdam and the French Alps, as well as an EU-backed Amsterdam-Barcelona service launching in 2025. More sleeping cars should increase comfort and the travel experience, it said.

Staff member in cabin
A cabin on the Brussels to Berlin sleeper route, which is being extended. Photograph: Belga news agency/Alamy

There is a growing revival of European long-distance and sleeper services as the EU promotes less polluting forms of travel, and travellers seek out alternatives to short-haul flights.

The Austrian rail operator OBB and its German counterpart, Deutsche Bahn, said last month their Nightjet service between Paris and Berlin was scheduled to launch on 11 December, leaving from Berlin with a return journey the next day.

Starting with three trips a week, the service will be daily from autumn 2024, the two companies said, leaving Gare de l’Est in Paris at 7.12pm and arriving at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof at 8.26am after stops at Strasbourg, and Mannheim, Erfurt and Halle.

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The Berlin departure will be at 8.18pm for an arrival in Paris at 10.24am. Nightjet’s Vienna-Paris service via Salzburg and Munich opened in 2021, and in December the company plans to launch a service linking Brussels and Liège to Berlin.

The French rail operator SNCF and Deutsche Bahn earlier this year announced a direct high-speed TGV service linking Paris to Berlin in about seven hours, with a scheduled launch at the end of next year.

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