Europe’s summer rail schedules kick in next month, though in truth the volume of changes that come with the June timetable change are very much fewer than what we expect with the main annual timetable change in December each year.
One of the more interesting innovations with this year’s new summer schedules is a direct train from Berlin to the Baltic port of Gdansk (still known to many German speakers as Danzig). The service continues beyond Gdansk to Gdynia, along the way serving the resort town of Sopot.
It is a once-daily out-and-back run from Gdynia, leaving the Polish port city just after six each morning. The journey to Berlin takes seven hours. The return train leaves Berlin mid-afternoon and reaches Gdansk at 10.04 pm, continuing north to Sopot and Gdynia where it terminates at 10.41 pm.
The train will be operated under the EuroCity brand. Outward train number is EC54 and the return trip from Germany is EC55. We understand that the train might well be named after Daniel Fahrenheit, the Gdansk-born physicist who gave us the temperature scale that bears his name.
The routing is as follows: Gdynia – Sopot – Gdansk – Tczew – Bydgoszcz – Gniezno – Poznan – Rzepin – Frankfurt (Oder) – Berlin.
The service is billed to launch on 6 June and runs daily until 8 December. On various dates in July the schedule varies due to track renewal work between Berlin and the Polish border. On some days in this period the westbound train will terminate at Fürstenwalde, from where passengers will have a choice of either bus or local train for the onward transfer to Berlin.
It will be interesting to see how this new service fares. Launching it in the run-up to Euro 2012 (where Gdansk is a host city) makes sense, but we do wonder how much traffic it will attract on a dull day in mid-November. A regular overnight service on the same route was axed a couple of years ago. And a seasonal regional service operated by PKP from Gdansk to Frankfurt (Oder) was kept so secret that it too quickly disappeared from the timetables.
At least the new EuroCity service has a restaurant car for its entire journey — a marked improvement over the EuroCity Wawel service from Berlin to Kraków where passengers have been known to expire from thirst and hunger as the train trundles through remote forests in deepest Lusatia. As a teenager, Daniel Fahrenheit had the misfortune to lose both his parents. They died from eating poisonous mushrooms. It’ll be interesting to see if mushrooms feature on the restaurant car menu on the Daniel Fahrenheit EuroCity train.