European Sleeper to serve Prague from March 2024
European Sleeper has announced the starting date for extending its night train connecting Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin to destination Prague – which always was the plan. From 25 March 2024, the train will run to the Czech capital.
Prague was always the planned end destination of European Sleeper’s first night train from Brussels. However, due to infrastructure works in Germany, the company previously did not receive track access south of Dresden, and the train could only make it to Berlin since its launch in May 2023.
In addition, the operator did not have enough carriages to continue to Prague. The company now has about six carriages in reserve, co-founder Chris Engelsman told NU.nl. Those are enough to carry more passengers over longer distances. “Ideally, we would like to rent twice as many carriages than we already do. Then we could run daily between Brussels and Prague with two trains at the same time”, Engelsman said. But that is not yet the case.
European Sleeper had initially targeted April 2022 for its start of operations, but launching a night train service proved a challenge. Now, the way is clear to Czech Republic, and according to the operator, it has been allocated an “attractive timetable, in which arrival and departure times of the various stops are well-balanced”.
European Sleeper also plans a winter night train between the Netherlands and the French Alps together with travel company Sunweb, which also had to be postponed last year. European Sleeper’s proposed night train between Amsterdam and Barcelona received backing from the European Commission, as it was selected earlier this year as one of 10 pilot projects. No financial support is offered, however. This train service is planned to be launched in 2025, according to the company.
As European Sleeper has shared previously, the one of the biggest challenges is the acquisition of night train rolling stock. The company is preparing the acquisition of refurbished and eventually new rolling stock. Different than most operators, European Sleeper is organised as a cooperative. In May 2021 and within 15 minutes, the company raised 500,000 euros in seed capital, by selling shares to more than 350 small investors from various countries in Europe and beyond. In a new round just before summer 2022, shares worth 2 million euros to 1,400 new investors were sold. In the current sharefunding, another 2 million will be raised, growing the cooperative to more than 3,500 co-owners.