Sunday, 1 December 2013

The end of Elipsos?

At 10pm on a Friday night passengers board the
Trenhotel at Paris Austerlitz ready for the
comfortable overnight journey to Barcelona.
The popular bar on board the Trenhotel

There is great news for passengers traveling between France and Spain from the 15th December 2013 timetable change- Direct high-speed services will, after many delays, link the two countries. The new TGV and AVE services will provide the fastest connection ever between cities in France and Spain.
The less good news is the almost certain curtailment of the Elipsos Trenhotel.

Quality dining is available aboard the Trenhotel
Set up in 2001 Elipsos is a joint venture between SNCF and RENFE to run overnight sleeper services
between their networks, and also formerly into Switzerland and Italy. The Trenhotel may not provide the fastest journey between Paris and Barcelona/Madrid but it does provide a very time efficient way of travelling. No longer will you be able to board the train in Paris as late as 10pm with an arrival in Barcelona the following morning before 9:45am having enjoyed a good nights sleep with an evening meal and breakfast served to you at a table. The earliest arrival possible in Barcelona by way of the new TGV service is is not until almost 2pm- and that requires boarding a train in Paris at around 7am!

What is disappointing about the withdrawal of the Elipsos service is that these trains are popular and busy. The fact that they cater for a totally different market to the the TGV has seemingly been totally overlooked by the SNCF and RENFE. The TGV will hopefully gain passengers from airlines, but the service Trenhotel service should remain as an alternative for time conscious passengers- particularly those making a longer journey by rail. It is a shame that these two services cannot both be retained to compliment each other.
From December 2013 the overnight Trenhotel from Paris will no longer arrive into Barcelona and Madrid.
The train is pictured here a few months before the end of its service at Barcelona Estacio de Francia.
Update Feb 2014: Since this post the Elipsos Trenhotel has been withdrawn leaving no direct overnight connections between France and Spain. It is still possible to travel largely overnight on these routes by taking 'Intercities du Nuit' trains within France and connecting to local services at the Spanish border. The excellent Seat 61 website contains details of how to make this journey.

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