Here is a thought to ponder as you make those final preparations for Christmas. In Berlin extra trains will run tonight on the city’s rail networks. Indeed on the nights of 24th / 25th and 25th / 26th trains will operate all night, criss-crossing the heart of the city and running — generally ever thirty minutes — out to the most distant suburbs. Some of these night routes extend out beyond the city boundary to Berlin’s rural hinterland.
All-night rail services in and around Berlin operate on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year, but on certain other key dates the night train schedule kicks in. Christmas is a time when folk want to get around, and Berliners most certainly expect their night trains over the holidays.
On Christmas Day, buses and trains in Berlin will run to Sunday timetables. More widely across Germany (and indeed most of the continent), long distance trains run just as normal. Night trains will leave Berlin this evening, just as they would on any Monday evening, bound for cities across Europe.
Switch to London, and the rail network is today beginning to shut down. No trains will run anywhere in Britain on Christmas Day — and all but a handful of routes (in and around London and Glasgow) will be train-less on 26 December.
The last trains on most routes will run much earlier than normal today. By the middle of this evening, London’s major railway termini will be quiet and eerie places, with just a few stragglers hurrying to catch the last trains out of the capital. Those who have the misfortune to miss a connection might well find themselves stranded until Thursday.
It is intriguing to reflect how Christmas travel patterns in two European cities are so vastly different. We also looked at this topic in a recent piece published on the Thomas Cook Publishing website.