Before the days of the Channel Tunnel there was a nightly Ostend-Vienna express. It connected with the former rail-ferry service from London Victoria via Dover.
Now Austria’s ÖBB will restart a similar route in a couple of days.
Instead, however, it’s starting from Brussels and will initially operate two days a week (Mondays and Thursday from Brussels, Sundays and Wednesdays from Vienna).
From January 20, Nightjet will depart Brussels Midi at 1804 to arrive into Vienna at 0914 the following day.
The inaugural Nightjet to Brussels Midi will depart Vienna on January 19 at 2038 to arrive into Brussels Midi at 1055 the next day.
There are several stops en route.
As we have previously reported, many sleeper services across mainland Europe have ceased in recent years.
Major operators like Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) or France’s SNCF have axed all or most of their sleepers in face of competition from faster daytime trains and LCCs (low-cost carriers).
But changes are afoot.
ÖBB took over some of DB’s overnight trains and intends to expand its network and to introduce night trains suitable for today.
It also plans a new range of rolling stock.
Travellers from the UK will be able to take Eurostar to make the connection at Brussels Midi, though neither operator interlines so tickets must be booked separately. This may prove a challenge for UK customers as Nightjet’s site is not straightforward to use.
Nightjet and Eurostar do not have co-ordinated schedules, meaning that UK passengers have a transit time of around two hours at Brussels Midi.
That may be fine at a busy hub airport. But at a train station?
Rail expert Mark Smith of Seat61.com comments: “Two hours is a good connection, it can absorb a 90 minute delay and you’ll still make it. I’ll be in the Pullman Hotel bar, the best VIP waiting lounge on Midi…”