For many there is something adventurous and romantic about travelling through the night by train, especially in the comfort of one’s own sleeping compartment, but it possibly wont suit those who love their own bed and need their eight hours beauty sleep.
Courtesy of Rail Europe Event Organisers Update’s intrepid editor was recently given the opportunity to experience two overnight train trips, London to Hamburg via Paris and back, around 2,000 miles, 30 hours and £400 worth, including first class on Eurostar with excellent food and drink, and single occupancy of a sleeping compartment for two. Some things he learnt about overnight train travel follow.
- Train motion lulls some folk to sleep but there were quite a few stops and starts, so some sleeping pills or alcohol might help some. It was a good idea to take a fat novel and a book of Extreme Sudoku puzzles.
- The continental breakfast served in the compartment in the mornings was very adequate and tasty, (orange juice, drinking water, large fresh roll, jam, liver pate, butter and a sweet sugar roll), and the coffee excellent. If you are a big water drinker take on your own as well. Hamburg station has some excellent take-away food outlets, for those wanting a self-catering dinner on the train.
- The sleeping compartments are well-designed and comfortable, with a sink, and good lighting for reading. Toilet and shower room is at the end of the corridor – for security lock the door behind you when leaving, remember the number and take your key. Pull the window blind down before you doze off, or suffer the curious stares of passengers at stations where the train stops.
- Beware the confusing information about train destinations on the platforms at Hamburg and check your platform number before you go down. Our Paris train, which split somewhere on route was shown as terminating somewhere in Germany, with no mention of Paris. They do need to sort this out at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, which has a reputation for poor or non-existent information, for stress-free Rail Europe travel.
- Consider other things that can be done at transfer stations on the route. We had a day in Paris on the return leg, leaving luggage in the lockers at Gare du Nord on the morning we arrived and catching an evening train back to London, which would have cost no more. On the out leg time in London was also arranged, before boarding Eurostar.
Fares from London to Hamburg start at £157 standard class return per person, and are subject to availability. For booking call 0844 848 5848, call at the Rail Europe Travel Centre, 183, Piccadilly, London W1J 9EU or visit raileurope.co.uk