What role do our sleepers play in rail connectivity? Can they ever viable? Should they be saved?
|The discontinued 'Elipsos Trenhotel' having arrived at Barcelona after an overnight journey from Paris.|
The story for Madrid is even worse- it does not even benefit from a direct high-speed connection to Paris- yet has still lost it's overnight sleeper.
The removal of these trains has vastly reduced options for onward travel also- many journeys which could once be accomplished in a day and a night now take two days- plus a hotel bill. I do not know how popular the new TGV's have been- but I suspect many a time conscious traveller, particularly those on business, has simply switched to taking the plane. Not something the rail industry should be encouraging.
|A comfortable bed in a 4-berth compartment on |
board the Trenhotel to Spain.
Removal of overnight trains is a compound problem- the more that are removed from service, the less able the remainder are to run as these trains share locomotives, and various portions run together for parts of their journeys. Removing one part of a train suddenly unbalances the economics of running a network altogether.
An online petition against the removal of the Paris-Berlin (and consequently also Paris-Hamburg and Paris-Munich) can be signed here should you choose.
|An SNCF 'Lunea' sleeper car at Strasbourg having traveled |
overnight from Nice.
For sleepers to survive they either need to pack in a large number of passengers paying lower fares, or a smaller number paying large premiums. In reality there is probably a market for both.
|Super high density sleeping- Russian 'Platzkart' sleeper car |
with open bunks arranged both along and across the carriage.
|Morning on the West Highland line aboard ScotRail's 'Caledonian Sleeper' a service which has now been safeguarded for the next fifteen years.|
Update- another online petition has emerged to attempt to save the threatened City Night Line sleepers.