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From Moscow to western Europe: alterations to train services

By Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries |

Last weekend, a raft of changes was introduced to train services from Moscow to France, the Netherlands and elsewhere in western Europe. The December 2012 issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable gives full details of all these changes.

Changing trains at Warsaw

Train 21JA from Moscow no longer carries through carriages for Cologne and Amsterdam. Passengers must now change at Warszawa Wschodnia to connect there into the EN446 Jan Kiepura for journeys to north-west Germany and the Netherlands.

Table 50 in the latest Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable gives a good overview of the new arrangements. Those with an eye for detail will notice that Belarusian sleeping cars will still operate thrice weekly from Minsk to Amsterdam. But henceforth there is no direct link from Moscow to Amsterdam.

Switzerland or the Czech Republic

The 21JA will continue to carry Russian sleeping cars bound for Switzerland. These carriages will be hitched onto the EN446 Jan Kiepura in Warsaw, running overnight with the EN446 to Hannover, where they are attached to the CNL473 Aurora (which originates in Copenhagen) for the remainder of their journey to Basel in Switzerland.

Under the new schedules the 21JA from Moscow continues to carry through carriages every day to Vienna in Austria and to a range of cities in the Czech Republic (including Prague, Karlovy Vary and Cheb).

Twelve lost links from Moscow

The alterations to the 21JA, coupled with the re-routing of the two direct trains from Moscow to France (the 17BJ Moscow to Nice and the 23JI Moscow to Paris), mean that the following west European cities have this month lost their direct rail links to Moscow:

Country Cities
Austria Innsbruck, Linz
France Metz
Germany Cologne, Dortmund, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal
Italy Bolzano
The Netherlands Amsterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht

New Moscow to Strasbourg link

However, it is not all bad news when it comes to links with Russia. Strasbourg is the principal beneficiary of the rerouting of the Moscow to Paris train (service number 23JI from Moscow, shown in some timetables as the Transeuropean Express). The French city now secures a direct link with the Russian capital. We believe that is the very first time that a year-round scheduled service has connected Strasbourg with Moscow.

The frequency of the Transeuropean Express will be increased from 26 May 2013. The Transeuropean Express is shown in full in Table 24 of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable. The new route across the Germany-France border benefits Strasbourg, but does mean that this train no longer serves Metz.

New route for Moscow to Nice train

The new route that the Moscow to Nice train takes through Austria creates winners and losers. No longer does the train serve the Tyrol. But beneficiaries of the new route are Klagenfurt and Villach which both now have a direct link to Moscow.

More significant, we would suggest, is the route that that this train now takes through the Veneto region in Italy (at the head of the Adriatic). Are Russian Railways gearing up to include Venezia Mestre station as a stopping point for the Moscow to Nice train? We discuss that speculative idea in a separate article published today here on European Rail News.

Copyright © Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. All rights reserved.
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About The Authors

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries

Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book was published in 2022 and reprinted in July 2023. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.

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