There’s a lot of talk at the moment about overnight trains…. They’re coming back!
I remember when they were so fashionable and …. expensive and then one day they disappeared. I also remember the unfashionable but super functional aspect of a night train. Tour companies would use couchettes all the time to travel from Paris to Venice, from Paris to Avignon, Paris to Madrid and Paris to Rome. An afternoon sightseeing and dinner somewhere in the Latin quarter before heading to the Gare du Lyon for a night journey across the European cities and towns that sparkled in the distance. Night trains were a way for tour operators to save the overnight in a hotel and provide a fun experience. Six to a cabin in times gone by.
Baguettes in hand and the trundle of tracks to put 700 to sleep before you awoke to the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean! Then budget airline companies like EasyJet and Ryanair introduced the cheap and fast option to replace the train lines with airport lines and delays! Nothing was ever the same!
Before you knew it we were jumping on planes for weekends to Prague for less than €10 and suddenly night trains were relics from a distant era. Just like that. Consigned to the dustbin of history….. In addition, super high-speed trains started to populate the European landscape. The TGV, the AVE, the Eurostar and the Thalis. Faster than ferries and less hassle and infinitely more comfortable than a cheap flight. The fact that you can now take a train from Rome to Milan in less time than it will take you on a plane changed everything yet again. London to Paris; one hour and 20 minutes! No seat belts, no hassle and rarely delays. But there’s been a rekindling of activity on night trains. Maybe not to replace the super-fast high-speed trains, but rather to provide that element, that adventure that we all remember in days past. And 6 to a room wasn’t that bad!