Europe’s Trains During Coronavirus

By Edward | Coronavirus

Mar 19
Swiss Restaurant car review SBB Elvetino

Europe's Trains during the Coronavirus Pandemic

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen again and start cataloguing the European rail disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic. But there it is. The virus is resurgent and most countries are reentering lockdown.

As of 2nd November, rail services are beginning to suffer. Nightjets between Austria and Germany are being suspended. Private, open-access operators are already decimating or cancelling their services.

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Europe's trains during Coronavirus - what you need to know

  1. In the first wave of early 2020, coronavirus brought down almost all international train services.
  2. Due to the uncertainty around coronavirus travel restrictions, most operators relaxed their refund policies.

    Europe's trains during the Coronavirus pandemic - November 2020 Update

  1. As the second wave engulfs us, it will be interesting to see how it plays out on the trains.
  2. Many local border- and cross-border services are still running, in spite of coronavirus. Theoretically you could still get quite far.
  3. Borders within the EU remain open, though Hungary is letting only Hungarians and Hungarian residents in.
  4. To make things easier for you, I've split this post into regions - Western Europe, Southern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page weekly. 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. Look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

For the time being,

  • Keep washing those hands for 30 seconds
  • Stay at home
  • Be kind 
  • Be safe and be healthy.

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

About the Author

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

  • Gerry Walsh says:

    Thank you

  • Charles Krueger says:

    Assuming it’s accurate, this is the best, most useful travel information I have seen during the crisis. Great job.

  • James says:

    Really useful information

  • Really wonderful effort, Edward. Easily the best compilation we’ve seen. Thanks so much.

  • Hello! This is the situation for international trains from Bulgaria:
    Trains that are cancelled include the Sofia-Belgrade-Sofia express and the Vidin-Craiova-Vidin fast train.

    The train connecting Sofia and Thessaloniki will run up to the Kulata border checkpoint.

    The train connecting Sofia and Bucharest will run up to Rousse.

    The Sofia-Istanbul train already was cancelled on March 11. The train runs as far as Svilengrad.
    https://sofiaglobe.com/2020/03/16/coronavirus-bulgarian-railways-suspends-international-trains-from-march-17/

    And national trains have been reduced to a minimum as inter-city travel has been prohibited except for work reasons. You can check it here: https://www.bdz.bg/en/

    • Edward says:

      Thank you very much for adding this! I shall be putting Bulgaria onto the list tomorrow. It is so handy when people bring details to me. Thank you!

  • Thanks so much Edward, this is really helpful & comprehensive update.

  • Lance Mentink says:

    Edward… I purchased a bunch of tickets for upcoming travel in Germany on the TRAIN APP. It says non-refundable. Is their another way… maybe the DB website ?

  • A. L. Mikkelsen says:

    Denmark: Trains are running between Malmö (Sweden) and Copenhagen Central (Denmark). Also trains are running between Flensburg (Germany) and Fredericia (Denmark). But you need a creditable reason to cross the border. Nationally, trains are running a reduced service. Source (in Danish): https://www.dsb.dk/trafikinformation/andringer-i-trafik-og-drift/andringer-i-trafik-og-drift/

  • Erkin Alp Güney says:

    Turkey: suspended all

  • Jordan says:

    With flights from Istanbul/Turkey very limited or cancelled until 20th May, do you think there’s any chance that the Istanbul-Sofia sleeper train will restart soon? Otherwise, how can I travel for essential business?

    • Edward says:

      I don’t think it is likely. I have just checked and can’t find anything on BDZ and TCDD websites that says that the trains aren’t running. However the borders are closed. We’ll need to watch closely.

  • Martin says:

    I couldn’t find Luxembourg in your lists for Western Europe or Central Europe. Information is on their site here
    https://www.cfl.lu/fr-fr/news/detail/coronavirus-covid-19-informations-et-directives
    Many apologies if it’s already on your web site and it’s me missing it.
    Thanks for all the work keeping everybody updated – it’s impressive and an amazing resource.

    • Edward says:

      Thank you Martin!

      I’ve been thinking about Luxembourg and am most grateful that you have brought this to us. In fact I haven’t done an entry on Luxembourg yet.

      So your contribution is very valuable. Thank you again! Stay safe.

  • Hello! Here is the situation for Norway:

    (written in the same style as your article on Sweden)

    No face masks necessary. People are advised to stay at least 1 meter away from others.

    Norway border status (train only)

    Closed:
    Sweden

    Foreign citizens are not allowed entry into Norway. Exceptions are few, but include people with a permanent residence permit, property owners and EU/EEA citizens with family in Norway.
    Regulations for EU/EEA citizens are here: https://www.udi.no/en/about-the-corona-situation/eueaa-national-or-family-member/#link-18184
    Regulations for non-EU/EEA citizens are here: https://www.udi.no/en/about-the-corona-situation/questions-and-answers-regarding-the-corona-situation-i-norway/
    These regulations are expected to last at least until August 15th, with possible exceptions for Nordic countries to be decided on June 15th and July 20th.

    All leisure travellers will have to self quarantine for 10 days when arriving Norway.

    International services

    No international trains run at all. There is, however, a severely limited bus service between Gothenburg/Stockholm and Oslo, and between Storlien and Trondheim.
    The Norwegian government will review its policies on border control with other Nordic countries on June 15th and July 20th. If the border control is relaxed, services are expected to resume.

    National services

    A limited service run on all long-distance lines. Seat reservations are mandatory on all long distance services, and only about half the seats are sold. Families are however allowed to sit together.
    On local services, please do only use seats that are not marked as unavailable.
    All night trains, except the ones on Nordlandsbanen (Trondheim-Bodø), are cancelled.
    On-board ticketing is not possible. All dining cars and cafés are closed.
    Regional trains in the Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim area, the Røros and Nordland line run as scheduled.
    See http://www.entur.no for updated timetables and ticket service.

    Refund policies

    Refund policies for Vy are here: https://www.vy.no/en/conditions-and-privacy/cancellation
    Refund policies for Go-Ahead Nordic are here: https://www.go-aheadnordic.no/reiseinfo/endring-refusjon-og-gebyrer/

  • Horny Harry says:

    Servus Eddy,

    If I manage to make it from England to BRD (via Hoek van Holland und ICE) and make it to München oder Basel Badische Bahnhof and refuse to wear mask will the wessi Bundespolizei have me festgenommen?!
    And then Gefängnis?! Wir länger in den knast?!
    What is the nicest knast in BRD? I want Luxury and good life in jail wie die guten Alten Zeiten!
    Prison in England ist überhaupt scheisse!!

    Danke
    Horny Harry Jr

    • Edward says:

      Servus Harry,

      Thank you for your most intriguing question. It reminded me of “Three Men on the Bummel” by Jerome K. Jerome.

      If you make it to Basel Badischer Bahnhof, you are out of the Schneider, as Switzerland doesn’t require masks. I would budget around €30 in case you are caught in Baden-Württemberg ohne Maske. In München you will need more. A simple Verletzung of the Maskenpflicht will set you back €150. If you do it again, it is €300, which is a better deal. Munich is expensive.

      To end up im Knast you’ll have to insult the Bundespolizei as they hand out your fine. Use dein Imagination.

      Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

  • Wulffe Rockwell says:

    Dear Edward,

    I’m wondering what the passport checks are like nowadays, traveling from one country to the other on the train.

    I am what the EU calls a “third country national”, meaning, I’m not European. I have a Schengen visa, and I am in Belgrade. At some point in July I need to make the trip from Belgrade to Vienna. I just want to make sure that I have what I need to clear passport controls.

    Perhaps the same exact process as if I’m traveling through air?

    Many regards,
    Wulffe

    • Edward says:

      Dear Wulffe,

      Thank you for your comment and your question. If you travel from Belgrade to Vienna via Budapest, then the crucial border would be Subotica. Your passport and a Schengen area visa should then be enough.

      Hope this helps. Write in when you have got your itinerary lined up.

      Kindest regards

      Edward

  • […] Også her er det selvfølgelig usikkerhet om innstillinger grunnet pandemien. Den beste oversikten over stoda i europeisk togtrafikk finner du hos togblogger Edward Schofield i hans Rail Guide Europe. […]

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