Entrepreneurial Czech rail operator Leo Express will be expanding into western Ukraine later this year (© Rebius / dreamstime.com).
There’s much ado with cross-border train services in Europe these days. Apart from the well-documented revival of interest in night trains, upon which we reported in issue 59 of hidden europe magazine, there are also developments with daytime trains.
It is welcome news that direct Eurostar trains will run from Amsterdam to London from 30 April, obviating the need for London-bound passengers from Holland to change trains in Brussels. The new service may well pave the way for increased frequency on the Eurostar route from London to Amsterdam and back. Dutch rail officials have already called for the frequency to increase to five trains a day in each direction from 2021. Tickets for the new direct trains from Amsterdam to London go on sale on Tuesday 11 February 2020.
There was more news this week on improvements to cross-border rail links in central Europe with the Czech authorities announcing better trains services between Prague and the Silesian city of Wrocław. There is even the possibility of some trains continuing beyond Wrocław to Gdansk and Gdynia on Poland’s Baltic coast. This isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s more a statement of intent, and the new services are not likely to be running for at least a couple of years. But it’s definitely indicative of a new spirit of cooperation when it comes to cross-border links.
The entrepreneurial Czech operator Leo Express reported its financial results last week, showing strong growth in 2019. Leo Express already offers three different classes on its rail services – Economy, Business and Premium – and now there’s talk of a yet another class to be launched this spring. It will be called Economy Plus. Leo Express plans to launch new daytime direct trains from Prague to western Ukraine later this year.
For hardy souls who don’t mind an overnight journey in a train seat (instead of a proper sleeping birth), there’s an interesting new international service starting next month. It’ll link Germany’s Baltic port of Rostock every night with the Austrian capital. With a mid-evening departure from Rostock, it’ll route via Berlin, Jena, Nürnberg and Passau to reach Vienna at 10.45 the following morning. It’s interesting that the double-deck Intercity trains used on the service are Swiss-built Stadler KISS units which are not so common in Germany. The first departures on the new overnight service to and from Vienna are on Sunday 9 March.
Tim Francis, 13 April 2020
I am interested in cross-border services, not so much the high-speed lines linking major cities, such as Eurostar and the project RailBaltica, but particularly local services, many of which would seem to be very easy to build or 'put back' after closure. I was heartened to read somewhere that the Tønder-Germany link has been restored, and that regional trains now connect Arnhem with Düsseldorf stopping at Emmerich and Wesel (previously there was only non-stop ICE traffic on which you couldn't take a bicycle), but what about restoring Kleve to Nijmegen? Or Borken-Winterswijk? Wiltz-Arlon? Colmar-Freiburg? The trackbeds are still there and also the rails in some cases. Why no connexion from Hulst to Belgium? What about Podgorica-Skoder? And night trains? It is good that OeBB picked up most of CityNightLine as the new 'Nightjet' but why cut Amsterdam out of the loop? And the axeing of the Hook of Holland as a regular rail link (it is now part of the Rotterdam metro system) means that foot passengers from Hook of Holland who want to travel onwards have to change metro to get to Rotterdam Centraal for destinations such Utrecht.
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 will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.