All Posts by Edward

About the Author

After crisscrossing Europe for 6 years as a train conductor, I guide intrepid travellers roaming Europe by rail.

Alpen Sylt Nachtexpress on the Hindenburgdamm
Sep 03

ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress: A Pop-Up Night Train

By Edward | Night Trains

Transparency disclaimer: I work for the company that runs the ALPEN-SYLT night express. I've also put a lot of work into starting it up. So I may not be 100% neutral. Just so's you know.

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At the beginning of the year, nobody knew about the ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress. Not even me.

Then in May, during lockdown, I got a phone call from the company I work for.

"You fancy doing something with night trains?"

My head began to spin. I steadied myself on my son's pram.

"Um. Yes?"

"We are starting a new night train service from Sylt to Salzburg and back, twice a week. We need you to come back"

So I went back to work. The company drafted me into the sales task force and wheeled me on as their night train consultant. 

My equipment raring to go

A little background

I've been working for this company (BahnTouristikExpress, and by extension Rail Development Corporation, an American rail company) since 2018 - see my Flixtrain post for more on that.

Most of the time I was working Flixtrain services for them, using couchette carriages in day mode. Flixbus sold the tickets and handled customer service, we ran the trains.

These veteran coaches plied the Hamburg-Cologne and Cologne-Berlin route by day heaving with stag dos and football fans.

Then came coronavirus, and for reasons I cannot divulge, the partnership with Flixtrain disintegrated into searing acrimony that continues to this day.

So what to do with all these couchettes standing around, to say nothing of the engines rented specially? 

Start a pop-up night train service, that's what.

The ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress - the service

The ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress (night express. NEX for short) is a twice-weekly overnight train service from the North Sea island of Sylt via Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich to Salzburg.

ALPEN Sylt Nachtexpress at Westerland

ALPEN-Sylt Nachtexpress ready to leave Westerland (Sylt). Photo credit: Marc Förste

It consists purely of couchettes and takes 16 hours to get from the very north of Germany to the very south and across the border into Austria.

On Thursdays and Saturdays it runs North-South, on Fridays and Sundays it runs South-North.

The current service is scheduled to run until the 7th of November. See below for future plans.

ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress - destinations

On its way south, the train starts at Westerland (Sylt) and calls at Niebüll, Husum, Hamburg-Altona and Hamburg Central to pick up passengers. Then it passes the night en route south. First stop for getting off is Frankfurt Süd, then Würzburg, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Munich, Rosenheim, Prien, Traunstein, Freilassing and Salzburg.

Alpen Sylt Nachtexpress on the Hindenburgdamm

The train on its way across the Hindenburgdamm. Photo credit: Marc Förste

What is the ALPEN-SYLT night express like?

The ALPEN-SYLT night express currently consists of couchettes only. These are ex-Deutsche Bahn couchettes as previously seen on CityNightLine services and now dispersed all over mostly private operators such as RegioJet and Snälltaget. A few went to ÖBB as well. 

NEX couchette

Some of the couchettes have nice new lining

These were most recently used for running Flixtrains. There hasn't been time to obliterate the Flix foil, so they coaches still run in green livery with ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress branding pasted over the Flixness.

Couchette Corridor

A look down the corridor on the ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress

Each compartment has six padded berths with blue lining. Sheets, pillows and blankets are provided.

ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress couchette

Middle bunk made up for sleeping

Every compartment has USB- and 220V sockets and every carriage is equipped with WiFi routers.

NEX Freebies

ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress compartment with its ducks in a row

How much do ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress tickets cost?

Whichever ticket you buy, you always get a whole compartment to yourself

Ticket prices

The cheapest promo tickets start at €99 for a single travelling with one child. 

From September there will also be a special offer for couples, starting at €199.

The standard fare is €399 for the whole compartment to yourself, irrespective of whether it is just you or there are six of you and irrespective of where you get on and off.

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Extras

Bicycles go for €49. If you book both ways, this is only charged once.

Breakfast is extra and costs €5. This ensures that only people who actually want breakfast get it - free breakfasts waste mountains of food. For my night train insider's breakfast rant, see my Astra Transcarpatic post.

NEX Salzburg

Me at Salzburg with the ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress

Where to buy

Most agencies in Germany specialised in railway tickets can sell you tickets for the ALPEN-SYLT night express. 

You can also simply book online. As yet the website is only in German, though I expect English to be added eventually. If you've subscribed to my blog, send me an email and I will gladly help you book.

What about future Nachtexpress trains?

The outlook is good at the moment. Many people are very excited about this train. The management is very enthusiastic too,

It makes such a difference: When I was at Deutsche Bahn the night trains were treated like some mad aunt who simply won't die. 

RDC, on the other hand, are completely enamoured of their new night train and already have exciting plans for 2021.

Alpen Sylt Nachtexpress Westerland

More night express awesomeness. Photo credit: Marc Förste

I can't write any of it just yet, but it looks like the future holds expanded service and more destinations. On the carriage front, they are looking into sleeping cars and seated cars.  

Right now I'm tasked with developing a service training for the night train crews - so there is definitely going to be something.

I suggest you subscribe to my blog. That way you will be the first to know when new Nachtexpress services are announced. And if as my subscriber you ever book on the Nachtexpress, just let me know. Perhaps you'll see me on the train too. 

I'll leave you with this video by vlogger Superalbs Travels in which he beautifully captures the entire experience.

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Czech Railcar Domazlice
Jun 30

Europe by Rail in 2020

By Edward | Cheaper Tickets

So what are your plans for travelling Europe by Rail in the rest of 2020? We've almost reached the middle without going anywhere.

It's been hard.

It's been three months of Sundays in which my only consolation (train-wise) has been a book. Did I say consolation? I meant replacement drug. Methadone. The book is

Europe by Rail.

Europe by Rail is a guide book for exploring Europe by train. It is written by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, runs to 544 pages and costs around £17/€20/$22.

It contains a section for before you leave, covering how to make an itinerary and how to get the best tickets. Then come the 52 routes that criss-cross Europe. The third part is an extensive reference section for rapid topical information.

This is the 16th edition. And for the first time, appositely, it includes the United Kingdom.

Before you leave

Verona Porta Nuova

Verona Porta Nuova station. I'm just cramming in a few of my own scenic pix, OK?

The first 50 pages lay the groundwork for your trip. They equip you with everything you need to be a self-sufficient railway traveller. I realise I'm making this sound like some arcane eastern practise, but advanced ticket whizzing is just that. 

The question of tickets and itineraries is a never-ending story and especially tickets could fill 1000 pages. Europe by Rail gives you the 20% knowledge you need to get 80% of the good deals, in just a few pages. Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries also have a surprising take on Interrail which completely changed my own opinion of the famous rail pass.

Fun fact: I've never had an Interrail pass.


A massive feat of curation

Europy by Rail routes

The 52 routes, seen from above. © David McCutcheon / DVD Maps" http://www.dvdmaps.co.uk

The 52 routes. Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries are also editors of hidden europe magazine, which they have been editing since 2005. There are few people alive who have seen as much of Europe as Nicky and Susanne.

These 52 routes thus represent a massive feat of curation by two of the most experienced, professional European travellers active today.. This isn't to be sniffed at. 

The routes are loosely grouped into regions - Exploring Britain and Ireland, Alpine adventures...Balkan journeys. 

Each route has a number and a name, e.g. Route 16: The Atlantic Coast of Iberia. Then stars are awarded for cities, culture, history and scenery. Countries covered, journey time and distance. A schematic map gives you an idea of the directions.

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One stellar feature in the latest edition is that each route now comes with a more detailed map online. Every route entry includes a short URL. Enter this into your browser and you are taken to a detailed, scaleable map of your impending journey. Here: click this.

What follows is sublime, evocative travel writing that draws you into the landscape and the cities along the way. Take Europe by Rail to the loo and they may have to send a search party after you.

Europe by Rail 2020 Route

Typical Europe by Rail route description

Highly distilled rail travel intel

After 400-odd pages covering the routes across Europe, there follow another 90 pages of references. "Reference" sounds like an afterthought, but this section comprises the Gazetteer - an A-Z of European countries with only the most relevant information - money, what sockets are used, national holidays. Then, what to expect in accommodation and train travel, country by country. I got sucked into this too. 

After that follows a reference section actually called reference section. An interesting addition is a compilation of city links - an A-Z of principal European cities and the approximate duration of direct train journeys to other cities.

Getting sidetracked

What I particularly love about Europe by Rail  is how it manages to reconcile concise, crystalline information with entertaining trivia. The book is interspersed with bite-size Sidetracks with at times only a vague connection to their position in the book.

But such delicious trivia. Did you know that the corridor along the side of compartment carriages was the end result of a Frechman being murdered in 1861? Or that Poland has a centuries-old Islamic tradition? Now you do. 

Europe by Rail 2020 Sidetrack

A typical Europe by Rail sidetrack

Summary

I may be starting to gush now. I don't see what other guidebook one could possibly need when travelling Europe by Rail. It wipes the floor with Rick Steves's Best of Europe.

If you were a complete novice you'd be off to the races with Europe by Rail. And even if you are an experienced traveller there is something for you in this book.

I always thought little of Interrail and Eurail. I never had a pass because my interests always lay further east. And for Western travel I was always fine getting my promo fixes.

Domodossola

Italian Pendolino at Domodossola, waiting to depart for Milan.

But reading Nicky Gardner's and Susanne Kries's take on Interrail changed my opinion. I've got a much more balanced, informed view now. I might even get an Interrail one of these days.

So what are your plans for the rest of 2020? We've almost reached the middle without going anywhere.

If you are preparing to hit the rails, then consider getting this book. If you are not going anywhere at all, then consider getting this book, too.

Look, I've put a button here. Click it to see where you can get your copy.

Buy the book

See where Europe by Rail is on sale

If you are interested in travel writing from unusual corners of Europe, you might also like hidden europe magazine, which is edited by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. It is comes out in print three times a year. The next edition is due shortly. I have been a subscriber for three years now and devour it as soon as it hits my letterbox.

And if you want to click another interesting button, below you will find one for subscribing to my blog. 

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eastern europe coronavirus
May 21

Coronavirus Train Disruptions – Eastern Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

Coronavirus Train Disruptions - Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe the coronavirus train disruptions are sweeping. While Russia seemed unfazed at first, it is now the worst-hit European country and myriad trains have been cancelled. Ukraine has done a better job containing the virus, but it has also cancelled all passenger traffic since 18th March. I don't know when it is going to resume.

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Russia - coronavirus train disruptions

🇷🇺

Face masks seem to be urged, but not compulsory on Russian trains. Social distancing distance is not defined, but a maximum distance is encouraged.

Russia border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
Closed
  • Ukraine
  • Belarus
  • Poland
  • Lithuania
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Georgia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mongolia
  • China
  • North Korea

Russia has now got a full blown epidemic on its hands and trains are severely impacted.

International Services

All international services have been cancelled. Trains to Kaliningrad pass through Lithuania without stopping. Trains that cross Kazakhstan via Petropavlovsk also pass through without stopping.

National Services

National services suffering badly. New social distancing measures are in place - essentially no train can be filled more than 50%.

  • In platskart only three passengers are placed per section (not six)
  • In kupé at most two passengers may be placed (not four)
  • in seated cars only window seats are sold.
Russia Social Distancing

How seats are allocated on Russian trains under social distancing

Here is the link to RZD's corona page.  The English version hasn't been updated since 10th April, so now I link to the Russian version. I'm not expecting you to read it. Just scroll down the page fast and you'll get the idea of how many trains are cancelled.

First services being reintroduced again. On the long list of cancelled trains, green check marks are beginning to appear.

RZD Reintroduced train

Example of a cancelled Russian train that has been reintroduced, as seen on RZD's corona-virus page

Refund policies

Tickets for cancelled trains can be returned and fully reimbursed. On cancelled domestic passengers are offered an alternate train/date or full reimbursement. 

Updated: 29th June

Ukraine - coronavirus train disruptions

🇺🇦

Face masks are compulsory in Ukrainian public transport. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

Ukraine border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
Closed
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Russia
  • Romania
  • Moldova
  • Belarus

International services

All international services are suspended until further notice. UZ did run special trains to bring Ukrainians back home from places like Poland and Czechia.

Right now I'm watching for when Slovakia starts running its rail bus to Mukachevo again. This I expect any day now.

National Services

Domestic services are gathering speed, but not everything is running yet. Check the UZ booking site for what interests you. Most trains seem to be running. I can't find anything running between L'viv and Odessa or L'viv and Kyiv.

Refund policies

All tickets are reimbursed free of charge.

Updated: 29th June. Outlook: improving

Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

  1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
  2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

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Frecciargento empty
May 21

Coronavirus Train Disruptions – Southern Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

Coronavirus Train Disruptions - Southern Europe

In Southern Europe the coronavirus train disruptions have been mixed. Italy and Spain have had a catastrophic time, while the likes of Greece and Bulgaria have got off lightly - mainly because they had more time to react.

In Italy and Spain the railways have barely been running, while in Bulgaria, say, very few trains had to be cancelled.

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Italy - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇮🇹

Face-masks are mandatory on all Italian trains. It seems you also need to wear disposable gloves. Social distancing distance is 1 m.

Italy border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Austria
Closed
  • Slovenia

Italy is in starting to ease its lockdown. Travel remains severely restricted. You are only allowed to travel with a sound reason which you have to have in writing when the police stop you. This is the form you have to have with you. 

International Services

International services are mostly running

  • Swiss local trains reach Domodossola. 
  • Thello services to Nice and Marseille are running
  • TILO regional services between Ticino and Lombardy are running
  • Services from Vienna to Bolzano restarted
  • Nightjets restarted at the end of June
  • Eurocity services from Milan to Switzerland running again
  • The Thello night train from Venice to Paris remains cancelled.

National Services

Presumably to ease contact tracing, all LeFrecce, Intercity and Eurocity tickets are to be personalised. That is, with your name and for your use only.

From what I can tell, all services are back to normal.

Italo also seems to be back to normal.

Rules of train travel on Trenitalia

Refund policies

Trenitalia refunds all tickets fully. Long and medium distance tickets are reimbursed as a voucher, local tickets are reimbursed in cash.

Italo reimburses you with a voucher that can be used for up to a year.

Click here for all the Trenitalia details.

Updated: 1st July. Outlook: Improving

Spain - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇪🇸

Spain border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • France
Closed
  • Portugal

Face masks (mascarillas) are mandatory in all Spanish trains. Social distancing distance is 2 m. 

International Services

Services to France are resuming, at last.

Services between Portugal and Spain remain suspended.

National Services

There is much less about coronavirus on the Spanisch Railways' website, Renfe.com. Random queries come up with a lot of trains. I assume most trains are running again, but not all seats are being sold. 

Refund policies

All tickets for travel from the 24th of May to the 31st of August have been automatically cancelled and the money automatically 100 % reimbursed. 

Updated: 1st July. Outlook: stable

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Portugal - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇵🇹

Face masks are obligatory in Portugal. The social distancing distance is 2 m.

Portugal border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
Closed
  • Spain

International services

All international services suspended.

National services

Local and regional services are mostly restored.

Alfa Pendular and Intercity services are still vastly reduced.

Here is CP's coronavirus page.

Refund policies

Refund policies are as usual.

Updated: 1st July. Outlook: improving

Bulgaria - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇧🇬

Face masks are mandatory on all Bulgarian trains. Social distancing distance is 1 m. 

Bulgaria border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Serbia
Closed
  • North Macedonia
  • Romania
  • Greece
  • Turkey


Here is BDZ's live timetable. I've set the link to show you the departures from Ruse, Bulgaria's northern frontier. 

International services

All international services are suspended. Services from Sofia to Belgrade are expected to resume on 1st July, services from Sofia to Bucharest on the 6th of July.

Services to Turkey and Greece remain suspended indefinitely

National Services

All domestic services are running. In sleepers, only single berths are being sold.

Refund policies

Refund policies are unchanged. BDZ assume no liability if you are prevented from making your journey.

Updated: 1st July. Outlook: stable

Greece - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇬🇷

Face masks are mandatory on Greek trains and the social distancing distance is 2 m.

Greece border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
Closed
  • Bulgaria
  • North Macedonia
  • Turkey

International services

All international services are suspended. I'm watching closely to see if the Belgrade-Thessaloniki service starts this year.

National Services

National services are still running at a reduced level. Here is the link to Trainose's coronavirus page (Greek). It is a list of the only trains that are running, while all others are cancelled. 

Recent press releases suggest more trains are beginning to run. The axis of Athens-Thessaloniki has been restarted.

Only half the seats are being sold and all windows are unlocked to increase ventilation (yay! open windows!)

Here is a nice video showing what Trainose does for your safety.


Refund policies

I can't find them. As the first shock waves have passed, reimbursement has become less of an issue, I assume.

Updated: 1st July. Outlook: stable


Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

  1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
  2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

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Empty LNER train
May 21

Coronavirus Train Travel – Western Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

This photo shows an empty LNER Azuma and is courtesy of my LNER colleague, train manager Peter Strong. #railwayfamily. Thank you very much!

Coronavirus Train Disruptions - Western Europe

Almost all Western European trains are back to normal. The Russian Railways services from Moscow to Paris and Nice remain suspended. In Most countries you have to wear a mask on the trains.

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Great Britain - Coronavirus  train travel🇬🇧

Face masks are now mandatory on trains in the whole of the UK. Social distancing distance is 1 metre.

GB safe countries

Here you can see which border countries are on the "safe" list. On return from the riskier countries you have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Safer
  • Ireland
Riskier
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands

Britain has eased its lockdown, though some local lockdowns remain in place. People can travel again just for the hell of it.

Eurostar

Face-masks are mandatory on Eurostar trains and at Eurostar stations. You won't be let onto the train without something covering your nose and mouth. 

France has eased its lockdown and is trying to get the tourists in again.

Eurostar is running five daily trains to Paris Nord, one to Disneyland and three to Brussels.

As borders have reopened, the romantic getaway or or the brie run are on the menu again - except that when you return to England, you have to self-isolate for 14 days.

On returning to England, you need to have the following form filled out and submitted.

Click here for Eurostar's corona page and timetable.

National Services

All franchises have been suspended, putting all railways under state control. Almost all trains are running normally.

Here is National Rail Enquiries' corona page, with links to all operators' timetables.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

The Netherlands - coronavirus train travel

🇳🇱

Face-masks (mondkapjes) are mandatory on all Dutch trains. Social distancing distance is 1.5 metres.

Netherlands safe countries

Here you can see which border countries are on the "safe" list. On return from the riskier countries you have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Safer
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • France
  • England
Riskier
  • England (Leicester)
  • Belgium (Antwerp)

A negative coronavirus test won't help you either. Arriving from anywhere not safe you must self-quarantine.


International services

Thalys is increasing frequency. There are five daily services to Brussels and Paris Nord and back. Expected to increase to eight daily services 30th August.

IC Brussel has returned to its normal schedule between Amsterdam and Brussels.

ICEs to Germany are all running to their normal schedule. 

The Intercity to Berlin has been running to schedule since 2nd June.


Local cross border services

All local cross-border services are running.

National Services

All trains are running again. You are advised to

  • Avoid crowds and the rush hour.
  • wear your mondkapje.

Many thanks to Thierry and Gerben for writing in with all the details!


Updated: 20th August. Outlook: improving

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Belgium - coronavirus train travel

🇧🇪

Face-masks are mandatory on all trains. Social distancing distance: 1,5 m.

Belgium safe countries

Here you can see which countries Belgium considers safe. 

Safer
  • Great Britain
  • The Netherlands
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Germany

Riskier

  • Great Britain (Leicester)

Eurostar

There is three daily services from Brussels to London. 

Click here for Eurostar's corona page and timetable.

Cross border

  • There are seven daily Thalys services to Paris. .
  • ICEs to Germany are running to schedule.
  • IC Brussel is running to schedule
  • ICs from Tournai to Lille Flandres are mostly running
  • Hourly trains between Athus and Luxembourg
  • The Nightjet to Vienna is running.

National Services

National services are back to normal. During summer, travel to the coast on trains is restricted to prevent overcrowding.

Here is the message, verbatim:

Are you going to the coast this weekend?
For everyone's safety, the number of passengers on the trains to the coast will be limited. We therefore advise you to spread out your journeys during the day and leave early in the morning or return late in the evening.
Prepare your journey well by checking the timetable just before departure via the SNCB app or sncb.be.

Here is SNCB/NMBS's corona page.

The Belgian state is financing 12 free trips on SNCB within Belgium for Belgian residents. If you live in Belgium, you have 6 months in which you can take 2 free trips per month - 12 altogether. Nice.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

France - coronavirus train travel

🇫🇷

France has completely left lockdown. Train travel is encouraged again. No forms are needed anymore. However, coronavirus is raising its head again in some parts of France, so be vigilant, especially in Paris. Paris is a red zone, which means restrictions can quickly be introduced. 

Face-masks are mandatory on all French public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.  

France safe countries

You gotta love the French. It seems all neighbouring countries are on the French safe list.

Safer
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Great Britain
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Italy
  • Spain
Riskier


International Services

  • TGV and ICE services from Paris to Germany are running
  • TGV Lyria services to Switzerland are running
  • There are five Eurostars to London
  • Here is the link to Eurostar's update
  • The Thalys goes to Brussels seven times a day, and to Amsterdam five times a day. There is also one IZY service at weekends (Fri-Mon)
  • Here is the link to Thalys's timetable updates.
  • The Paris-Moscow and Nice-Moscow trains remain cancelled.
  • The Thello to Venice remains cancelled.
  • Services to Spain are running.

National Services

Trains are running again and can be filled up to 100%.

Here is SNCF's Corona page. (French. English version is error 404)

RER and Transilien are running normally.

In some regions, you needed reservations or access cards. This was to prevent overcrowding. Europe by Rail has more on this. Paris: To use the Transilien services during the rush hour (Mo-Fri 06:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00) you need a confirmation from your employer

I can't find any more on this. Perhaps this is no longer necessary.


French Covid safety

Those French Covid protection measures in full

Ticket flexibility

Currently you can reserve an optional train and pay later, or change or cancel your tickets and reservations at your discretion. You can mess around with SNCF to your heart's content up until 31st August 2020.

Those affected by OUIGO cancellations will get their money back automatically within three days.

TER tickets issued on paper can be returned to the SNCF boutiques up to 60 days after curfew has been lifted.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: improving.

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Sweden - coronavirus train travel

🇸🇪

No face masks necessary. Social distancing distance is not defined. 

Sweden safe list

It is possible to enter Sweden from all neighbouring countries. Just not by train. Only the Öresund train is running between Malmö and Copenhagen.

Safe
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Germany
Riskier

Sweden has been getting lots of stick for its relatively low-key handling of the pandemic. Norway and Finland are watching their borders with Sweden closely.

My faithful reader Niklas has written in from Sweden. Thank you, Niklas, for sending me the Swedish situation.

International services

NO TRAINS to 

  • Germany
  • Norway.

There is an hourly service across the Öresund bridge. Denmark has closed its borders to all but Danish residents or people working in Denmark.

Norway quarantines ANYONE arriving in Norway for 14 days. All SJ trains to Norway remain cancelled.

National Services

The whole network is running, though SJ has reduced the frequency of its trains.

Here is SJ's corona page.

As of August 2020, SJ has limited seat reservations yet further, so that if you book a window seat, the aisle seat is definitely empty. 

MTRX's Stockholm-Göteborg service continues to run. MTRX guarantee all passengers an empty seat next to them to aid social distancing. MTRX also provide every passenger with a complementary mask.

Snälltåget is running about half its trains.

Ticket flexibility

All operators have relaxed their refund policies. Non-flexible tickets have been made more flexible.

MTRX and Snälltåget refund non-flexible tickets as vouchers.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

Norway 🇳🇴

Face-masks are not mandatory in Norway. Social distancing distance is 1 m. 

Norway safe list

Norway has a draconian safe list. Here it is in full

If you come from a red area it is 10 days quarantine for you.

Safer
Riskier
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Russia

Kristian has written in with the details for Norway and helped me immensely by putting it all in one place for me. Tusen takk!

International services

The international services to Sweden are suspended at least until the 6th September.

National Services

  • Some night trains are cancelled. The ones between Trondheim and Bodø and between Oslo and Trondheim are running
  • Some daytime domestic services are still affected by cancellations or closures
  • Here is Vy's coronavirus page.
  • And here is another useful Norway page: www.entur.no

Limited services on all long distance lines. 

Refund policies

Refund policies have been relaxed to a certain extent to allow extra flexibility.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

  1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
  2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

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Empty DB train
May 21

Coronavirus Train Disruptions – Central Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

This picture shows an empty DB Intercity. Courtesy of my friend and colleague Zugführer Martin Pavlík. Thank you!

Europe's trains during Coronavirus - Central Europe

Central Europe has fared better in the coronavirus pandemic than Western Europe, mainly due to swift, draconian measures in the Visegrád states and Germany's calm discipline. Czechia was in lockdown before coronavirus was really a thing in England.

This hit the railways hard. Slovakia introduced an emergency timetable (you can download it), and across Central Europe services were wound down to a bare-bones minimum. Only Germany kept most of its long-distance trains running, though local services plummeted.

Germany - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇩🇪

Face-masks are mandatory on all German trains. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

Germany border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Though border checks are still in place, you are allowed to travel again.

Open
  • Czechia
  • The Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Switzerland
  • Poland
Closed

Important: If you enter Germany from what Germany considers a risk-area (say, Île de France, or parts of Romania) you need to fill out this form. Then you need to go into quarantine for 14 days. You can find the German list of risk-areas here.

International Services

Most international services are running and back to normal. Services that are cancelled:

  • The Russian Railways service to Berlin and Paris remain cancelled
  • The sleepers and couchettes on the EN 463/462 Munich-Budapest have been cancelled again recently.


Corona trains

EN 463 from Munich to Budapest, 23rd April. Courtesy of my friend Martin Pavlík.

Local cross border services

All local cross-border services are running.

Domestic Services

Deutsche Bahn are running all their mainline trains again. 

Local services are back to normal.

The DB lounges are open again, as are the restaurant cars.

Flixtrains are running again.

The ALPEN-SYLT Nachtexpress started on 4th July with only private compartments sold. Check this train out here.

Refund policies

Standard rules apply. Beware of the SuperSparpreis: it explicitly rules out any reimbursement, even in the event of full lockdown.

Updated: 8th September

Switzerland - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇨🇭

Face-masks are mandatory. Social distancing distance is 2 m. 

Switzerland border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open

  • Germany
  • France
  • Austria
  • Italy

Closed


International services

International trains are resuming service.

  • There are now a three daily trains from Basel to Paris, four from Geneva to Paris. One train goes from Lausanne to Paris.
  • Railjets and Eurocitys to Austria are running again
  • All Nightjets now running again 
  • Eurocitys to Italy (MIlano Centrale) restarted


Local cross border services

France: The Léman express is back to normal

Italy: Local services reach Domodossola. TILO services reaching into Lombardy, including Milan.

Germany: Services back to normal.

Austria: all local cross border services back to normal.

National services

Everything back to normal.

Click here for SBB's updates

Updated: 9th September.

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Austria - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇦🇹

In Austria, face-masks are mandatory on ALL public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.

Austria border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Czechia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Italy
Closed
  • Hungary (open only to Hungarians)

International Services

All trains are running again. The only services still missing are:

  • The Russian Railways' Moscow-Nice service has yet to be reinstated
  • Hungarian Railways MÁV have taken their sleepers and couchettes out of service again.
  • International service to Hungary are being scaled back due to draconian measures in Hungary.
EuroNight 462

One of the very few international trains that ran throughout lockdown: EuroNight 463/462 "Kálmán Imre"


Local cross border services

All local cross-border services running.

National services

Mainline and local services are back to normal.

Click here for more details.

WESTbahn are running every hour between Vienna and Salzburg.

WESTbahn and ÖBB now recognise each other's standard tickets


Updated: 9th September

Poland - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇵🇱

Face-masks are mandatory on all Polish public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.

Poland border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Germany
  • Czechia
  • Slovakia
Closed
  • Ukraine
  • Belarus
  • Russia

International Services

International services to Germany, Czechia and Slovakia are running again. As yet there is nothing going to Ukraine, Belarus or Russia.

National Services

National services are back to normal. 100% of seats are available for sale.

Restaurant cars are open again.

Refund policies

Tickets bought before the 4th of March whose date of validity has not yet arrived can be returned for a full reimbursement.

Updated: 9th September

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Czechia - coronavirus rail disruptions

 🇨🇿

Face-masks were reintroduced on 1st September and are mandatory on public transport throughout Czechia. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

Czechia border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Germany
  • Slovakia
  • Austria
  • Slovakia
  • Poland
Closed

Czechia had returned to normal, but some restrictions are creeping in.

International Services

International services are restarting! YAY!

  • Trains from Prague to Berlin are running
  • Regiojet has resumed services to Slovakia
  • Services to Austria running
  • Day services to Poland restarted
  • Night trains to Slovakia, Austria and Switzerland restarted
  • Night trains to Hungary are suspended

National Services

Domestic services are running normally.

RegioJet have adjusted their reservation system to ensure that there is enough space between travellers. Disinfectant soap is guaranteed in all loos. Free water now only in 1st class.

Leo Express is running one train a day between Prague and Bohumín in both directions. They provide every passenger with a face mask.

Refund policies

Tickets can be returned for a full reimbursement, even First Minute Europe promo tickets.

Updated: 29th June. Outlook: improving

Slovakia - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇸🇰

Slovakia border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open
  • Austria
  • Czechia
  • Poland
Closed
  • Hungary
  • Ukraine

Face-masks are mandatory on Slovak public transport. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

International Services

  • International services to Czechia have resumed from the 9th of June.
  • Services to Austria restored
  • Hungary and Ukraine to follow 1st July. 
  • Night trains to Czechia running again

National Services

ZSSK, Slovakia's national operator is starting to return to the normal timetable. Not everything is running yet, but since 10th May things have been improving.

Night trains are running again.

Here is that timetable in full.

Motorail services (Autovlaky) are scheduled to restart 1st July.

Since 1st April, free travel for students has been suspended. Everyone is urged to pay for tickets contactless.

Time for a video:

Refund policies

If you bought your ticket before 13th March, 06:00 AM, you have until 30th June to exchange it free of charge or get your money back.

If you have bought your ticket after 13th March, 06:00 AM, administrative fees apply, but I can't find where they say how much. It won't be much.

Updated: 29th June. Outlook: Improving

Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

  1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
  2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

FREE Access

Join my Rail Guide Europe Club FREE

Sign up now and gain instant access to:


  • The password to my Insider Rail Guides
  • My FREE Telegram help group
  • Ask me Anything status by email