News

Elipsos sleeper train withdrawn from service

16 Dec 2013 by Alex McWhirter

Elipsos, the Franco-Spanish sleeper train, is no more.

The overnight service, featured in September’s Platform, is a victim of the new faster daytime TGV service, launched yesterday, linking Paris with Barcelona and Madrid (see news, November 25).

Elipsos will be missed by discerning travellers. Each train — one service ran between Paris and Barcelona, the other linked Paris with Madrid — was one of the few intra-European sleepers with hotel standards.

Passengers booking the best accommodation benefitted from en suite showers and toilets, while Elipsos was also possibly the last remaining sleeper service with a proper dining car in which you could make full use of the longer journey time.

This varied between 11.5 hours for Paris to Barcelona and 15.5 hours for Paris to -Madrid because Elipsos took the classic route involving a gauge change at the Franco-Spanish border. (Modern high-speed Spanish track is the same as in the rest of Europe, but older track has a wider guage).

It would be nice to think that Elipsos had a niche. But the problem is that sleeper trains cost a lot of money to run.

The staff to passenger ratio is much higher than with a daytime service and, crucially, utilisation is low. The special Elipsos rolling stock can only accomplish one trip in every 24 hours, whereas a modern daytime TGV could make two or three trips in the same time frame.

What I find annoying is how the rail companies can get away with a short notice cancellation at a busy time of year.

A few days ago when I was researching next February’s Platform, the Elipsos website gave no indication that the service was about to end.

But when I checked yesterday, would-be passengers are simply directed to the daytime TGVs. And the announcement is only in French and Spanish.

Under EU consumer law airlines must give 14 days notice of a commercial cancellation otherwise passengers must be compensated. European rail firms are not subject to the same rules. Isn’t it about time they were?

elipsos.com

Alex McWhirter

Loading comments...
BTUK October 2018 issue
BTUK October 2018 issue
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below
Polls