DB to axe underperforming sleeper trains

6 Aug 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Sleeper trains have not been in vogue across mainland Europe for many years.

Their number has been steadily reduced in France, Italy and Spain and now comes news that Germany's Deutsche Bahn, one of the last of the big operators with its CNL (City Night Line) brand, is also preparing to wield the axe.

DB will withdraw a number of its underperforming CNL services from December, industry magazine International Railway Journal reports.

The sleeper services in question are:

  • Basel/Amsterdam/Prague to Copenhagen
  • Hamburg/Berlin/Munich to Paris
  • Services from Warsaw/Prague to Amsterdam will continue to operate but will terminate at Cologne.

DB said that revenue has been low in recent times, yet operating costs are high. Right now, these services are losing €20 million a year and their rolling stock is coming to the end of its life.

There are a variety of reasons why Europe's sleeping trains are in long-term decline.

These include the lack of "hotel standards" expected by today's travellers. For instance, an en suite shower and toilet accommodation — even if available — is extremely costly.

Then there's the faster pace of life. For business travellers, it's becoming the norm to get the trip done within as short a time as possible.

And, finally, there's now competition not just from airlines but also from the growing high-speed train network. As a result, many business trips can be accompished in one day, rather than two.

Alex McWhirter

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