There is no exact date for the first ride yet. “Early summer,” says European Sleeper, which is cooperating with Czech rail company RegioJet for the connection. The schedule is already fixed. The train will operate three times a week, with departures from southern Brussels on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, each time at 19:22. In Belgium, the train also stops at Antwerp Central (8.01 pm). It then passes through Holland and Germany (with stops in Berlin and Dresden, among others) to the Czech capital Prague, arriving shortly after 10 am. The return flight is on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday, arriving the next day in Antwerp at 8.47 am and in Brussels at 9.54 am.
The plans are a little more limited than what was first announced. For example, European Sleeper was hoping to start in April, but that would be summer. The train will continue after Brussels to Ghent, Bruges and Ostend, but this does not seem possible. “The operating costs in Belgium are too high for this extension to be implemented in a cost-effective manner. We will see later if this is still possible in 2023,” says the company.
Don’t make the startup any less ambitious. For example, you want to make the connection daily as quickly as possible. And in 2023, the company also wants to connect Brussels and Amsterdam with the Polish capital of Warsaw. It will happen with the same night train, which will then be split in Germany. And then the European Sleeper has “the ambition to offer a new night train from Holland and Belgium every year,” it seems.
April Fanff tickets
At the beginning of 2022, European Sleeper will announce more details about comfort classes, ticket prices and the exact start date of the first night train. Ticket sales will begin in April. Travelers will be able to take their bikes with them.
European Sleeper was started by two Dutch people. In the middle of this year, they joined the Belgian startup Moonlight Express. He originally wanted to organize overnight train trips from Brussels via Liege to Berlin.
There is currently only one night train in Belgium. NightJet of the Austrian railway company ÖBB operates three times a week between Brussels (via Liege and Germany) and the Austrian capital Vienna.
Another initiative, from the company OVOE (Ostende-Vienne-Orient-Experience), has been delayed again, says initiator Kristof Blomme. He had originally hoped to be able to start the night trains around this time. That would be the summer of 2022, but that also turned out to be futile, says Bloom. He regrets that the government has not taken a more active role in facilitating night trains, especially in the “European Year of Rail”. OVOE now aims to start night trains to Austrian ski areas at the end of 2022.