Long Distance Train Services

Back to Forum
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 37 total)

  • Anonymous


    I thought I would start his thread as this subject has been talked about a lot today on the thread relating to Virgin Atlantic´s aim to provide domestic services.

    Some other threads have previously spoken about this topic such as “Sleeper trains from St. Pancras?” but I think a new one could be useful.

    1 – The Scotrail sleeper services(Scotland-Euston) have been called into question. I believe the services are loss making but are seen as essential, especially in the Highlands. It is time for the reburbishment or replacement of the rolling stock so a high capital investment is on the immediate horizon, and so ideas are being floated.

    2- Sleeper services from London (Waterloo and/or St.Pancras). It has been suggested that these could go to Spain(unspecified destination) or Portugal but will not since the rail gauges are different.

    Wherever sleeper services go they will be subject to commercial demands. Scotrail services might well (and I think should) survive for social not commercial reasons. However, with ever faster line speeds it is more and more difficult to make them justifiable in this small island. With the electrification of the GWML the sleeper to Paddington from Penzance is doomed. In fact any under 8 hours journey time is at risk.

    Sleeper services from London southwards and eastwards are more of a possibility even with higher line speeds. I would think it inefficient to try to attend to all potential destinations because many are already well served from Paris or Mid-European termini. Thus I do not think the Orient Express (from London) will make a comeback.

    I do think that services to the South of France and even Italy (Rome?) are on the cards. The services to Lisbon, however, are not as yet on the horizon since the Portuguese government has cancelled TGV work. The Spanish connection will exist in 2016 since that is the limit date to receive the construction “subsidy” from Brussels. After that Madrid, Algeciras, Valencia and Barcelona will be available destinations.

    It should be pointed out that the possibility of services to Spain and Portugal already exist and, in fact, run using variable axles. These trains run through “interchange” lines where the axle widths are widened or narrowed whether the train is entering Spain or France accordingly. A Tren-Hotel runs nightly between Madrid and Paris using this system – and it is not the only one.

    Other factors will have to be considered. One room or double room compartments occupy a lot of space thus restricting the passenger numbers. Inclining airline type seats have been suggested. This could increase passenger numbers but lessen the attractiveness of having a bed. Dinner and breakfast facilities would have to offered. Lastly, but not least, the total journey time would have to be such that a turn round (cleaning and refills) can be achieved to maintain a continuous use of the rolling stock and not having it waiting unnecessarily in a siding.

    What thoughts have you on the matter? What stops and destinations would be interesting for leisure and/or business trips? When would this be more interesting than the plane(or car)?


    Train operators should learn from Chinese operators (in one particular respect) in regards to sleeper train and reclining seats. As Chinese services compete very directly with airlines (though to be honest, they’re all owned by the state!) they have to offer a decent product, which in the case of high speed rail, means fully flat seats between Beijing and Shanghai.

    The cost of replacing the sleeper trains was recently put at £160m anyway, so the mistakes of the Scottish Government represent only part of the problem anyway, because there would still be a £60m shortfall.

    Long-distance, regular Eurostar services to the South of France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany will not begin until 2014 and DB may start soon after. RENFE and Trenitalia are also interested. However, international sleeper service is unlikely in the short-term at least because there have been no appropriate train orders placed.


    LeTigre as prior posted Eurostar ordered and had some high speed sleepers built. The through services to points North of London and Mediterranean never happened and the rolling stock was sols to Canadian Rail. So they could be bought back or the plans used to build more. These meet the standards for HS lines and the Channel Tunnel.


    I believe those carriages have already (mostly) been configured for use elsewhere.


    They have been in use some time , the point I was making is that obtaining rolling stock is not as big a problem As it might be as compliant stock exists which could be returned to Stock or new trains built from the plans. There is no need for all the testing a la DB stock


    As Rich notes above, there was special rolling stock built for proposed “night time” Eurostar services. The idea was that through sleeper trains would run from London and the UK regions right through to Brussels, Frankfurt and Paris.

    The coaches would offer “hotel” standards but unfortunately the idea was conceived before the days of LCCs and increased air travel from the regions. So the idea was dropped and the rolling stock sold to the Canadian railways.

    There are few pictures of these Nightstar trains being tested in the UK because the tests took place in secret and often overnight. They never operated in passenger service in the UK.

    Some more info here:


    As transtaxman mentions, there are special overnight Talgo trains which operate between Paris and Spain. They’re designed to cope with the different track guages.

    Unfortunately Talgo trains would not meet Eurotunnel safety requirements so through running from London to Spain would not be possible.



    Until the HS lines to Spain are completed, as these are standard gauge.


    Various stages from 2011 to 2020 (when ti will bypass Montpelier and other French cities.)

    I wonder how long it will take the UK HS2 to bypass Aylesbury?

    Certification to tunnel standards and any modifications will take time. Signalling is different and depenent on which routes in UK the trains may use, the loading gauges could be very different. Also I believe the evacuation procdures and policies for sleeper vehicles will be very stringent.


    An interesting point on the Sleeper carriages built for the European services that never happened. The toilets happened to be in the crumple zone should the train have been in an accident. Anyone who happened to be in the bathroom at the time would have been in trouble! I don’t know if they were repurchased whether they would be now allowed because of this?


    I would imagine any recertification would be part of an overhaul process. It would probably be more cost effective to make some more given the distances involved for shipping and the requirement for overhaul. Once the new Eurostars come on line from Siemens, may be the current stock could be reconfigured for sleepers. Interesting to see TGV Freight service at St P. Shows that the world of train transport may not be over.

    I am just depressed we will not use Maglev for HS2. Rather than being the rail innovators which the UK was in the 19th century, UK will burst forward in the 2020’s to match what France did in the 1980’s.

    It would be so much better if a maglev service to Midlands, North and Scotland was developed with private / public financing. It is so typical that today everyone looks at building cost and ignores maintenance (presumably because in varoius places the maintenance has been forgotten itself) .


    I don’t think there’s much chance of Via Rail – the Canadian state-funded operator of the ex Nightstar stock – selling them back for use in the UK. The stock is in constant use on their Atlantic sleeper services. It’s a shame they were never brought into service in Europe though, having travelled on them and the Caledonian Sleeper, the former is a world apart in terms of space and comfort.


    Good news if it comes to fruition – German HS trains (200mph) approved for Channel Tunnel will open routes eastward.

    Also good for competition.


    As an aside, apparently the UK could soon gain the mantle of becoming Europe’s second largest producer of cars. One hopes as rail travel is on the increase we see a corresponding growth in manufacturing in rail related industries – a sector the UK once held global leadership in.




    @ BigDog. – 14/06/2013 21:07 GMT



    Do we know, is the launch date for the DB services still 2016? After my recent experience of the ICE I for one will be using these services for journeys of up to about 1000 miles without a second thought once they are running.


    John, I am following this subject very closely as I cant wait to let the train take the strain to Germany.

    As I understand it, the major delay is the ability for the different companies pricing/ticketing software to talk to one another.

    BT ran an article a couple of months back.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 37 total)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
The cover of the Business Traveller April 2024 edition
The cover of the Business Traveller April 2024 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below