Trains at night in Belgium, photo: NMBS

Dutch and Belgian night trains start-ups join forces

New night train operators European Sleeper and Moonlight Express decided to merge the companies under the name European Sleeper and together develop a night train connecting Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague. They announced that the sleeper train will start from April 2022.

Both Dutch start-up European Sleeper and the Belgian Moonlight Express started independently last year with the construction of a network of night trains from the Netherlands and Belgium. With both similar routes and objectives, the fact that the new companies will continue as one company might not be a surprise to everyone.

One strong night train specialist

“We have decided to develop one strong night train specialist, instead of two competing initiatives”, announced European Sleeper.  The train will run three times a week for the first months, and ‘probably daily’ after that. Travel times and ticket costs will be announced soon, according to the company.

European Sleeper started a share-funding campaign in May, which turned out a great success. All shares were sold out in just 15 minutes by more than 350 investors from all over Europe. European Sleeper is a cooperative, which means large investors become members and have control over the company strategy.

Destinations

European Sleeper’s destinations

As for the destination of the company’s first night train, the original plans of European Sleeper are kept. Moonlight Express originally had plans to connect Brussels to Berlin via Liège, but this destination is not on European Sleeper’s list. The train will continue to Prague as planned.

To realise the night train, the company works together with Czech-based private operator RegioJet. In addition to the Prague – Berlin – Amsterdam – Brussels connection, RegioJet and European Sleeper plan to develop further night train connections on other routes in Central Europe together. The Czech operator is investing in growth of its long-distance train fleet.

RegioJet has already received the first two of the fifteen Bombardier TRAXX MS3 multi-system locomotives, and intends to make significant investments in expanding its rolling stock in 2021. In addition to the 50 railway coaches that the company acquired recently, at least another 70 coaches will be added in 2021. This will mean a further increase in the fleet of up to more than one third, amounting to 300 coaches for day and night long-distance connections.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

2 comments op “Dutch and Belgian night trains start-ups join forces”

Kees van Goeverden|23.06.21|13:14

A cooperative alternative is two trains, one starting in Brussels (or Oostende) en running to Hannover via Liège, and one starting in Amsterdam (or Rotterdam) and running to Hannover via Hengelo. In Hannover two new trains are composed of the coaches of the Belgian and Dutch trains, one running to and ending in Berlin, the other running to Prague via Leizig and Dresden.

Gert Michiels|23.06.21|13:35

That’s all very nice, but so far – apart from ÖBB (Siemens Nightjet)- nobody has invested in sleeper cars. The couchette coaches from RegioJet are 50+ years old, ex-DBAG. Very compfortable, for sure, but Regiojet has no sleeper coaches. The whole of Europe is looking for second-hand night train material, but there is nothing available.
A new, big initiative is required, to order/finance new night train material. Like the Z type Eurofima coaches in the 70’s.

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