Back on Track: News Archive
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Timetable period 10.12.2017 - 8.12.2018
December 2017 Timetable Change
- Austria - Czech Republic: RegioJet introduced 4 daily train pairs between Vienna and Prague, competing with the 2-hourly RailJet (yes, confusing, isn't it?) trains provided by incumbent operators ÖBB and ČD.
- Austria - Germany: Vienna - Nuremberg (- Frankfurt/Hamburg) trains were accelerated by up to 25 mins thanks to fewer stops and the reactivation of tilting equipment on the ICE trains used on the route.
- Austria - Italy: the direct service between Vienna and Venice was doubled from one to two daily train pairs, albeit with less comfortable RailJet rolling stock replacing the fine compartment coaches of the previous EuroCity trains.
- Austria - Poland: one pair of Vienna - Bohumín EuroCity trains was extended to/from Katowice.
- Austria - Slovakia: one regional train pair between Vienna and Bratislava, and one IC train pair between Bratislava and Košice via Poprad Tatry were combined, creating direct daytime services between Vienna and Košice for the first time in many years. The wonders of interoperable RIC rolling stock!
- Austria - Ukraine: a new direct service with newly-built UZD sleeping cars operated between Vienna, Lviv and Kiev.
- Czech Republic - Germany:
- services on the Munich-Prague route increased from 4 trains per day to 7, thus almost doubling the train service to 2-hourly. Unfortunately this came at the cost of the loss of the bistro cars that used to run in two train pairs per day. The new services were also sadly beset by reliability problems in this timetable period, with poor timekeeping and short formations owing to issues with the ex-Trenitalia rolling stock deployed by Alex/Netinera.
- a new direct service of two train pairs on weekends only was introduced between Karlovy Vary and Zwickau via Klingenthal (all other connections via this route require a change of train in Kraslice or Sokolov).
- Czech Republic - Poland:
- the seasonal direct EuroCity train pair between Prague and Kraków introduced at the 2016/17 timetable change was increased to run all year round, presumably owing to strong demand (we had long suspected this would be a success) and possibly also to preempt the introduction of a rival service by Leo Express.
- one pair of Vienna - Bohumín EuroCity trains was extended to/from Katowice.
- Czech Republic - Slovakia:
- RegioJet increased its Prague - Brno - Bratislava service from two to three train pairs per day.
- RegioJet extended its overnight Prague - Košice train pair to/from Humenné.
- France - Spain: the night train Paris – Cerbère - Port-Bou was partially reprieved in summer 2017 thanks to regional financing; in 2018 it operated at weekends all year and daily during school holidays.
- Germany - Italy: a new daily direct Frankfurt - Milan EuroCity Express train pair via Basel was introduced with Swiss tilting rolling stock. This also led to the restoration of DB SparPreis through ticketing between Germany and Italy via Switzerland, albeit only for these direct trains.
- Germany - Netherlands: hourly regional services between Bielefeld and Bad Bentheim were extended to/from Hengelo from 14 January 2018 (postponed from the mid-December timetable change in 2017 thanks to rolling stock authorisation problems), restoring regional services to the cross-border section for the first time since December 2013. This got off to a poor start owing to a mixture of further technical issues and staff shortages, but services subsequently settled down.
- Germany - Switzerland: the NightJet overnight service between Hamburg and Zürich via Berlin was split into two separate portions north/east of Hillesheim in Germany,leading to much more attractive arrival and departure times in Berlin and allowing Hannover, Magdeburg and Potsdam to be served en route.
- Hungary - Slovakia: the line between Rajka and Bratislava-Petržalka was reopened to passenger traffic with the re-introduction of 5 train pairs, of which four start/end in Hegyeshalom.
- Italy - Switzerland:
- one daily pair of EuroCity services between Milan and Zürich was extended to start/end in Venice, replacing the weekend-only service introduced in June 2017.
- a new half-hourly regional route between Varesi and Mendrisio began on 7 January 2018, with extensions to/from Como (hourly route S40) and from June 2018 to/from Milan Malpensa Airport (S50 every 2 hours).
- Portugal - Spain: in fact already running since 29 August 2017, a passenger service was reinstated on the Entroncamento - Elvas - Badajoz line. Although consisting of just one train pair per day, it offers reasonable connections at each end, making it feasible once again to travel by daytime trains between Lisbon and Madrid.
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Nice try, but...
- Bulgaria - Turkey: despite the completion of most upgrade work on both sides of the border, the single Sofia - Plovdiv - Istanbul train pair - with passport control at 02:00 in the morning on the platform in Kapikule - remained the only cross-border service on the line. What a waste of millions of Euros of infrastructure funding...
- Czech Republic - Poland: passenger trains via the Meziměstí - Mieroszów border crossing were reinstated after a gap of 14 years. However, trains only ran on weekends and public holidays between 28.4.2018 and 2.9.2018: there were four train pairs between Mezimesti and Walbrzych, of which two pairs ran to/from Adrspach and one train pair to/from Wrocław.
- Latvia - Lithuania: the gap between the two countries' passenger networks was bridged in the form of the extension at weekends only of two pairs of Lithuanian trains between Vilnius and Turmantas to/from Daugavpils, where there are connecting services to/from Riga. Update: This service commenced on 13 January 2018.
- Lithuania - Poland: the new Mockava - Białystok - Warsaw - Kraków TLK train pair was announced as starting in December 2015. Update: This service did not run at all in the 2017-2018 timetable. When will this much-needed service finally begin...?
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- Austria - Germany: the Vienna - Dresden - Berlin night train Metropol was withdrawn north of Prague, a victim of cost-cutting at the Hungarian state operator MÁV, which formerly operated the train within Germany at its own commercial risk. This meant the capitals of Austria and Germany were no longer linked by direct trains for probably the first time in around 100 years - unbelievable!
- Austria - Netherlands: the daytime Krokus Express ski train between Den Haag and Schladming/Bludenz was cut back to operate just once, coinciding with Dutch school holidays. BTE Autozug replaced Euro-Express as German partner in the operation of these trains with the Dutch Treinreiswinkel.
- Austria - Russia: through sleeping cars between Vienna and St. Petersburg were withdrawn.
- Austria - Slovakia: the direct overnight service between Vienna and Košice via Poprad Tatry was cut back to operate seasonally.
- Bosnia - Croatia: Bosnia remained completely cut off from its neighbours by rail, with no indication of progress regarding the reintroduction of the Sarajevo - Zagreb train pair. The same applied to the hoped-for reinstatement of passenger services between Mostar and the Croatian coastal town of Ploče.
- Bulgaria - Greece: the cross-border Kulata - Strimon section of the Sofia - Thessaloniki line remained substituted by buses all year long. The most likely reason for this is the use of non-RIC compatible DMUs on the Thessaloniki - Alexandroupolis train that used to be the 'carrier' of the through carriages to/from Sofia. This has been going on since 25 May 2017 with no official explanation from TrainOSE or BDZ.
- Bulgaria - Serbia: just like the previous year, direct trains between Sofia and Belgrade ran only in summer. The reasons for this are: ever fewer passengers owing to low speeds caused by poorly maintained infrastructure, economic pressures on ZS and the lack of diesel locomotives in Serbia with serviceable train heating equipment.
- Croatia - Hungary: daytime through carriages between Rijeka and Budapest attached to one of the Zagreb - Budapest train pairs were discontinued.
- Czech Republic - Germany: the first train of the day between Prague (departing around 04:00) and Berlin, and the last train of the day between Berlin (19:00) and Prague both ceased, a consequence of the decision to withdraw the night train Metropol north of Prague. More good news for the bus operators...
- Czech Republic - Russia: through sleeping cars between Prague and St. Petersburg were withdrawn.
- Czech Republic - Slovakia: ČD night trains between Cheb, Prague, Košice and Zvolen were drastically cut back.
- Czech Republic - Ukraine: through sleeping cars between Prague and Kiev were withdrawn.
- Germany - Hungary: the Berlin - Dresden - Budapest night train Metropol was withdrawn north of Prague, a victim of cost-cutting at the Hungarian state operator MÁV, which formerly operated the train within Germany at its own commercial risk.
- Germany - Italy: Euro-Express pulled out of the car-carrying overnight train market between Düsseldorf and Italy following disagreements with its Dutch partner Treinreiswinkel. While the Düsseldorf - Verona route was taken over by BTE Autozug, the Düsseldorf - Livorno route did not operate at all in 2018.
- Greece - Macedonia - Serbia: the Greek section of the route Thessaloniki - Gevgelija - Skopje - Belgrade, on which trains replaced by buses in 2017 up until 18 October 2017, was once again 'bustituted' until further notice. What is going on there...? Update: even the rail-replacement buses between Thessaloniki and Gevgelija were withdrawn on 1 October 2018, leaving intending passengers to find their own way of reaching or leaving Greece.
- Hungary - Romania/Serbia/Slovenia: various long-distance trains lost their restaurant cars, including the (Vienna-) Budapest-Belgrade Avala, all services between Budapest and Romania (to/from Cluj Napoca and Bucharest) and the Budapest - Ljubljana Citadella.
- Norway - Sweden: following improvements in recent years that had led to large increases in patronage, the Oslo - Stockholm service was cut back from four or five daily train pairs to three until mid-August 2018, thereafter just two, with signficant decelerations. This situation will continue until 2022 owing to track modernisation work in Norway, probably resulting in significant modal shift back to road and air.
- Slovakia - Ukraine: through sleeping cars between Bratislava, Lviv and Kiev were withdrawn.
Timetable period 11.12.2016 - 9.12.2017
Jump to December 2016 Timetable Change Summary
Bosnia - Croatia: on Friday 9 December 2016 it emerged that there was no agreement between the three operators (ZFBH, ZRS and HZPP) of the daily Sarajevo - Zagreb train pair to continue operating it from the timetable change two days later on 11 December. The service is therefore currently suspended until further notice, with the result that Bosnia is now completely cut off from its neighbours by rail. Just a few months earlier ZFBH had announced plans to use its modern Talgo rolling stock on the service, which was also supposed to be extended south of Sarajevo to/from Mostar and the Croatian coastal town of Ploče in summer 2017.
Bulgaria - Greece: the daily daytime train pair between Sofia and Thessaloniki was replaced by buses between Kulata and Strimon from 25.5.2017 until the end of the year. However, a new weekly overnight train pair between Sofia and Thessaloniki supposedly ran between 2.6.2017 and 2.10.2017, complementing the existing daytime service.
Bulgaria - Serbia: the direct train pair between Sofia and Belgrade was suspended from 1 February until 31 May 2017 and again from 18 September 2017 onwards, ostensibly because it is too expensive for ZS passenger subsidiary Srbija Voz to hire diesel locos from ZS subsidiary Srbija Cargo for the unelectrified part of the route. Don't you just love fragmentation!
Bulgaria/Romania - Turkey: since 21 February 2017 it was once again possible to travel by overnight train for most of the distance between Sofia and Istanbul. There was even a connecting bus service for the 25 km stretch between Halkali and Istabul Sirkesi, which is still disrupted by rebuilding work. It was expected that through carriages would operate between Bucharest and Halkali from 3.6.2017 until 30.9.2017.
France (- Luxembourg / Spain): SNCF will withdraw almost all overnight 'Intercités de Nuit' services in the near future, most having already been cut back to run at weekends only. The following routes will disappear:
This leaves just four routes in place, namely Paris - Briançon, Paris - Rodez (- Albi Ville), Paris - Latour-de-Carol and (for the moment) Paris - Perpignan - Cerbère - Port-Bou (Spain). The French government has half-heartedly invited expressions of interest from private operators to reinstate the withdrawn services.
- Paris Austerlitz – Perpignan - Cerbère - Port-Bou (Spain). This formerly daily service ceased operating from 10 December 2016. Update: co-funded by contributions of €1.4m annually each from the French State and the région Occitanie-Pyrénées-Méditerranée rgion initially for a period of 2 years, departures on Fridays and Sundays in both directions (daily during school holidays) have run again since 2 July 2017.
- Paris Austerlitz – Tarbes / Hendaye - Irún (with legendary 'near miss' non-connections to/from Vigo/A Coruna). To be withdrawn in July 2017.
- Paris Austerlitz – Savoie. Expected to run for last time on 30 September 2016.
- Paris Austerlitz – Nice. RZD has apparently expressed an interest in taking over this route. Possibly connected with this, RZD sleeping cars have been trialled on this service since August 2016. UPDATE: expected to run until December 2017.
- Luxembourg – Nice. Ran for last time on 30 June 2016.
- Luxembourg – Portbou. Ran for last time on 30 June 2016. These cuts leave Luxembourg without any long-distance trains except a few daily TGVs. IC and EC services to France, Germany and Switzerland have already disappeared.
- Strasbourg – Nice. Expected to run for last time on 30 September 2016.
- Strasbourg – Portbou. Ran for last time on 30 June 2016.
Germany (- Czech Republic / Italy / Netherlands / Poland / Switzerland): DB withdrew all remaining CNL sleeper train routes at the timetable change in December 2016, replacing some of them with inferior overnight IC, ICE and bus services. However, Austrian Railways (ÖBB) took over some routes, while the Prague - Zürich service was rerouted via Linz. The following international services completely disappeared:
- Amsterdam - Cologne - Basel - Zürich
- The Amsterdam - Düsseldorf part of Amsterdam - Munich
- Cologne - Poznan - Warsaw
- Cologne - Dresden - Prague
- Dresden - Basel - Zürich
- Hannover - Basel - Zürich
Greece - Bulgaria - Romania: a new direct train pair between Thessaloniki and Bucharest ran weekly between 2.6.2017 and 2.10.2017. This was completely new between Thessaloniki and Sofia (where it ran overnight), but was attached to the existing (seasonal) daytime service between Sofia and Bucharest.
Portugal - Spain: from 29 August 2017 a single daily train pair was reintroduced between Entroncamento and Badajoz. This means it is once again possible to travel by rail by day between Lisbon and Madrid, albeit changing twice en route.
December 2016 Timetable Change
- Austria - Czech Republic: there were big improvements to the Linz - Prague route, with 4 instead of 2.5 train pairs and most services accelerated by 45 minutes.
- Austria - Germany: the Munich - Hamburg night train pair was taken over by Austrian Railways and extended to start/end in Innsbruck.
- Austria - Netherlands: a new weekly overnight Alpen Express operated in winter between The Hague and several Alpine ski resorts en route to Schladming. A day train Krokus Express also ran on two dates in winter 2017 with portions to/from Schladming and Bludenz. These services were operated by Euro-Express in cooperation with Treinreiswinkel.
- Austria - Slovakia: a new daily direct overnight service was introduced between Vienna and Košice via Poprad Tatry.
- Belgium - Germany: up to 3 additional ICE train pairs operate between Brussels and Frankfurt, filling some of the long gaps between trains in the Brussels - Cologne timetable.
- Croatia - Germany: a direct overnight service between Rijeka and Munich resumed after a gap of over three years. This and the Zagreb - Munich service are even bookable online via the ÖBB website, a much-needed improvement.
- Croatia - Hungary: new through carriages between Rijeka and Budapest were introduced, attached to one of the two daily Zagreb - Budapest train pairs.
- Czech Republic - Poland: For the first time in many years, a direct daytime train pair ran between Prague and Kraków from Easter until the end of September 2017.
- Czech Republic - Slovakia:
- a new regional service of up to 4 train pairs/day links Ostrava and Banská Bystrica, with one train pair extended to/from Zvolen.
- RegioJet launched two train pairs per day between Prague and Bratislava via Brno, using paths formerly allocated to ČD.
- Czech Republic - Switzerland: following the diversion of the Prague - Zürich night train to avoid Germany, Tábor and České Budějovice regained their direct connection to/from Switzerland.
- France - Germany: a summer weekend service ran between Wörth am Rhein and Strasbourg, a route that lost its direct passenger trains back in 1980.
- Germany - Italy: Euro-Express/Treinreiswinkel operated weekly car-carrying overnight trains between Düsseldorf and Livorno/Verona in summer 2017.
- Germany - Netherlands: hourly regional services between Düsseldorf and Emmerich were extended to/from Zevenaar and Arnhem from 6 April 2017.
- Hungary - Slovenia: the EuroCity Citadella between Budapest and Ljubljana was accelerated by 13 minutes in one direction and 23 minutes in the other.
- Italy - Switzerland:
- EuroCity services between Milan and Zürich via Bellinzona were accelerated by 35 minutes at the cost of diverting trains away from the scenic Gotthard Pass mountain railway into the 57 km Base Tunnel.
- a new regional service between Domodossola and Brig was launched by BLS, starting with 4 train pairs per day and stepping up to 2-hourly from June 2017. These trains supplement the existing EuroCity services.
- Norway - Sweden: the service on the Oslo - Stockholm route was increased from three to five daily train pairs, following the 39% increase in passengers recorded between August 2015 and May 2016.
- Serbia - Turkey: on paper at least through coaches were restored between Belgrade and Halkali (near Istanbul) from June until October, attached to the day train between Belgrade and Sofia and the night train between Sofia and Halkali. UPDATE: timekeeping in Serbia has been so poor that the through coaches were discontinued again from sometime in either August or September 2017, forcing passengers to change in Sofia with no guarantee that the connection would work in the eastbound direction.
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Nice try, but...
- Austria - Germany: thanks to being offered poor paths by infrastructure managers, Euro-Express/Treinreiswinkel could not operate their planned Villach - Düsseldorf car-carrying overnight services in 2017.
- Bulgaria - Turkey: despite the completion of most upgrading work on both sides of the border at Kapikule, the Sofia - Plovdiv - Svilengrad - Istanbul overnight train pair remained the only international service between Bulgaria and Turkey. What a waste of millions of Euros of infrastructure funding...
- Germany - Slovenia: thanks to being offered poor paths by infrastructure managers, Euro-Express/Treinreiswinkel could not operate their planned Düsseldorf - Koper car-carrying overnight services in 2017.
- Lithuania - Poland: the new Mockava - Białystok - Warsaw - Kraków TLK train pair originally announced in 2015 did not run in the 2016-17 timetable at all. When will this much-needed service finally begin...?
- Norway - Sweden: the planned Oslo - Stockholm night train service did not run in the 2016/17 timetable. A shortage of serviceable rolling stock was cited.
- Romania - Turkey: despite the completion of most upgrading work on both sides of the Bulgarian/Turkish border at Kapikule, the Bucharest - Svilengrad - Istanbul overnight train pair remained the only international service between Romania and Turkey. Even worse, direct carriages now only run in summer, while sleeping cars were withdrawn from this service in late summer 2017, leaving just Turkish couchette cars to provide a through service between Bucharest and Istanbul between June and October only. What a waste of millions of Euros of infrastructure funding...
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- Austria - Belgium: Weekly Treski ski trains between Brussels and the Austrian Alps did not run, leaving Belgium with no international overnight trains at all.
- Bosnia - Croatia: on 9 December 2016 it emerged that there was no agreement between the three operators (ZFBH, ZRS and HZPP) of the daily Sarajevo - Zagreb train pair to continue operating it from 11 December 2016. The service has been 'suspended' since then, with the result that Bosnia is now completely cut off from its neighbours by rail. Just a few months earlier ZFBH had announced plans to use modern Talgo rolling stock on the service, which was also supposed to be extended south of Sarajevo to/from Mostar and the Croatian coastal town of Ploče in summer 2017, which also did not happen.
- Bulgaria - Romania: following the loss of the night train in December 2014, the sole remaining direct daytime service between Sofia and Bucharest - the capitals of neighbouring EU Member States - was reduced to run seasonally in summer only; at all other times of year one must now change at the Bulgarian border station of Ruse to/from a Romanian regional train between there are Bucharest. It appears this change was introduced to save on the cost of using diesel locomotives on the short non-electrified cross-border section of the route.
- Bulgaria - Romania - Hungary: the daily train Bononia between Sofia and Budapest via the infamous Danube Bridge 2 and Craiova was scrapped, poor infrastructure, lengthy border controls and a lack of attractive fares all having contributed to its failure. This leaves the Danube Bridge 2 with no international long-distance trains at all.
- Bulgaria - Serbia: the night train between Sofia and Belgrade was scrapped, while the daytime service was decelerated by about 2 hours - owing to the poor state of the infrastructure in Serbia - and reduced to operate seasonally in summer only. The Serbian passenger train operator has seemingly decided it is too uneconomic to hire in a diesel loco from its freight or museum subsidiaries in the low-season.
- Croatia - Hungary: probably a delayed reaction to the European refugee crisis, the Beli Manastir - Magyarboly border crossing lost its 2 local train pairs, effectively closing this border crossing to passengers.
- Croatia - Serbia: the overnight train between Zagreb and Belgrade was reduced to run seasonally rather than all year round and did not convey sleeping or couchette cars.
- Czech Republic - Germany: the overnight train between Prague and Cologne was withdrawn. This also meant the last daytime direct connection from Prague to Berlin ran two hours earlier (at about 16:30), a move that can only have resulted in passengers switching to buses...
- Czech Republic - Poland: the remaining direct trains between Pardubice/Ústí nad Orlicí and Wrocław were withdrawn, leaving another cross-border route upgraded with EU funds without an attractive service. At one time there were direct trains between Prague and Wrocław via the Lichkov border crossing.
- Czech Republic - Slovakia: RegioJet replaced its Prague - Zvolen direct train pair with buses on the non-electrified stretch south of Martin (Slovakia). RegioJet blamed the introduction of additional services by incumbents on the Ostrava - Banská Bystrica - Zvolen section. At the end of February 2017 Regiojet diverted this train pair to/from Košice, with a bus connection betwen Vrútky and Zvolen.
- Czech Republic - Switzerland: following the diversion of the Prague - Zürich night train to avoid Germany, the Czech Republic lost its only direct connection with Basel.
- France - Germany - Poland - Belarus - Russia: the Paris - Berlin - Moscow service was cut from 3 services to just 1 train pair per week, partially substituted by a new Berlin - Moscow service operating twice per week in each direction.
- France - Spain: the night train Paris – Cerbère - Port-Bou was discontinued. Talks of a reprieve had led to nothing as of March 2017.
- Germany - Netherlands: the DB overnight service between Munich and Amsterdam ceased, partially replaced by a new Innsbruck - Munich - Düsseldorf service operated by ÖBB.
- Germany - Poland:
- The overnight train Jan Kiepura between Cologne and Warsaw was withdrawn.
- The direct train pair Berlin - Kostrzyn - Krzyz (with attractive night train connections to/from southern Poland) was cut back to Gorzów.
- Germany - Switzerland: Following the diversion of the Prague - Zürich night train away from Germany, Dresden lost its only direct connection with Basel and Zürich.
- Greece - Macedonia - Serbia: the Thessaloniki - Skopje - Belgrade train pair was suspended until at least May 2017.
- Hungary - Serbia - Montenegro/Bulgaria: direct, modern RZD sleeping cars between Budapest and Bar/Burgas/Varna via Belgrade were withdrawn.
- Macedonia - Serbia: the Skopje - Belgrade day train service was completely withdrawn while the night train pair was suspended until at least May 2017.
- Netherlands - Switzerland: the overnight service between Amsterdam and Zürich ceased. This means the Netherlands followed in the unenviable footsteps of Belgium, leaving the country with no regular, all-year-round sleeper trains.
- Poland - Serbia - Montenegro/Bulgaria: direct, modern RZD sleeping cars between Warsaw and Bar/Burgas/Varna via Belgrade were withdrawn.
- Serbia - Croatia - Slovenia: the overnight train between Belgrade and Ljubljana via Zagreb was reduced to run seasonally rather than all-year-round and did not convey sleeping or couchette cars.
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Timetable period 13.12.2015 - 10.12.2016
Jump to December 2015 Timetable Change Summary
InterRail tickets: The attractiveness of InterRail was given a major boost at the start of 2016 through the inclusion of one free return trip in the country of residence to/from the border.
Belgium - Austria: The weekly Treski couchette train beween Belgium and ski resorts in Austria via the Netherlands ran in the winter 2015/16 season, apparently boasting the innovation of using a single TRAXX locomotive all the way through from Brussels to Austria.
Belgium - Luxembourg - France - Switzerland: Direct trains Brussels - Basel and Luxembourg - Basel ran for the last time on 2 April 2016, making the Eurocity brand extinct in Belgium and Luxembourg. Although a single TGV train pair between Brussels and Strasbourg via Lille has been introduced, journey times on the Luxembourg - Basel axis are now significantly longer.
Czech Republic - Germany: summer weekend services over the Vejprty - Cranzahl border crossing resumed on 1 May 2016 under an initiative of DB and ČD. Results have been so positive that a similar summer service will be provided in 2017.
Germany (- Czech Republic / Italy / Netherlands / Switzerland):
- DB withdrew all remaining CNL sleeper train routes at the timetable change in December 2016, replacing them with overnight IC, ICE and bus services. However, Austrian Railways (ÖBB) will take over some routes, while the Prague - Zürich service will be rerouted via Linz.
- In summer 2016 a Munich - Innsbruck - Bologna train pair was extended to/from Rimini at weekends.
- Car-carrying night trains between Düsseldorf and Verona ran once a week in summer 2016, this time operated and marketed by the partnership of Treinreiswinkel and Euro Express.
Germany - Sweden: Snälltåget cancelled all Berlin - Malmö services in the period 15-28 August 2016 thanks to construction work by DB on the German island of Rügen and a lack of serviceable locomotives owned by the Georg Verkehrsorganisation in Germany.
Kosovo - Macedonia: For some time now the 'direct' train pair between Prishtina and Skopje has been no such thing, in reality there is a change of train at the border station of Hani i Elezit. As if that were not bad enough, the northbound service was rescheduled to leave 10 minutes earlier from September 2016, thus breaking the long-standing connection from Bitola in the south of Macedonia. Infuriating nonsense!
Poland: service updates March 2016:
- 16 months after the loss of the Eurocity Wawel, direct trains once again linked Berlin and Wrocław via Cottbus, this time in the form of a weekend service between 30 April and 25 September 2016, subsequently extended to 8 January 2017. The States of Berlin and Brandenburg provided 100,000 EUR each in financial support. The service used DB Regio DMUs and was operated in partnership with the Polish operator KD, with single tickets from end to end costing just 19 EUR.
- A Zielona Góra - Frankfurt (Oder) train pair was extended to/from Berlin Lichtenberg from 1 April 2016. This has been achieved by opening up empty rolling stock transfers to/from Lichtenberg depot to passengers. As of 28 March 2016 the journey planner of the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB) showed the service running daily except Thursday (!) and with different timings between Frankfurt (Oder) and Berlin depending on the day of the week. It appears the service was financed until the end of 2016.
- A first step towards the provision of several daily services between Berlin and Gorzów (Wielkopolski) took place on 20 March 2016 with the introduction of one train pair between Krzyż and Berlin Lichtenberg. This is the result of welcome cooperation between the Lubukie Region (UMWL), the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB), Arriva Polski, DB Regio and the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB). Trains are 'additional' on the Polish side but run in place of existing franchised NEB services between Kostrzyn and Berlin. VBB tickets are valid between Gorzów and Berlin. It remains to be seen whether Arriva will pursue its plan to operate a Torún - Berlin train pair via Krzyż.
December 2015 Timetable Change
- Bulgaria - Russia: a daily Sofia - Moscow service via Belgrade and Budapest is provided by RZD.
- Bulgaria - Serbia: a daytime direct service between Sofia and Belgrade runs again after a gap of 4 years. Approximate timings: Sofia 11:30 - Belgrade 19:30, Belgrade 07:35 - Sofia 16:30. It continues east of Sofia to/from Istanbul, at least in theory, depending on engineering works in Turkey.
- Croatia - Romania: Bogajevo - Erdut has reopened with two regional train pairs on weekdays - better than nothing!
- Croatia - Slovenia: the two train pairs on the Čakovec - Mursko Središče - Lendava route now operate on Mondays to Saturdays, not just on Saturdays.
- Czech Republic - Germany: Cheb - Aš - Selb - Hof has reopened with 9 daily train pairs.
- Czech Republic - Poland: interesting announcements have emanated from Poland...
- An additional EuroCity train pair between Prague and Warsaw, with a further extra train pair between Ostrava and Warsaw.
- 6 train pairs Cieszyn - Český Těšín - Frýdek-Místek (after a gap of 6 years with no trains)
- Reopening of the Bohumín - Chałupki - Rybnik (- Katowice) border crossing with 3 EuroCity train pairs and 4 local train pairs. The reopening was postponed to 18 January 2016. Until then EC trains were diverted and local trains bustituted.
- Czech Republic - Poland: direct services now run between Liberec and Szklarska Poręba Górna via Tanvald, following the approval of ČD RegioShuttle trains for use in Poland, or at least on this specific route. This permission apparently came just a few days before the timetable change!
- France - Germany - Poland - Russia: the Russian night train service linking Paris and Moscow runs 3 days per week, an increase in comparison with most of 2015. It continues to operate overnight between Paris and Berlin.
From June 2016 there should be an additional 3 train pairs per week between Berlin and Moscow using RZD's new Talgo trains.
- Germany - Poland: the 3 daily train pairs Dresden/Görlitz - Wrocław run once again, this time in partnership with Polish operator KD. An additional 6-7 train pairs to/from Görlitz are provided by KD, running to/from Jelenia Gora/Wegliniec/Zielona Gora.
- Germany - Switzerland: some Zürich - Munich EuroCity trains will be extended to/from Basel.
- Hungary - Poland: the direct EuroCity train Varsovia between Budapest and Warsaw is restored after an absence of one year. On selected dates it will convey through cars Burgas/Varna/Sofia/Bar/Beograd - Moscow.
- Hungary - Russia: a daily Budapest - Moscow service is provided by RZD.
- Serbia - Turkey: direct trains between Belgrade and Istanbul - or somewhere between the Bulgarian border and Istanbul in any case depending on construction works - were expected to be restored after an absence of many years.
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Nice try, but...
- Lithuania - Poland: draft timetables indicated a new Mockava - Białystok - Warsaw - Kraków TLK service, presumably with connections to/from Vilnius. Orginally planned to start at the timetable change, the latest talk is of
spring or summer 2016. Will it happen...?
- Poland - Ukraine: draft timetables showed two daily train pairs between Przemyśl and Lviv, including a night train to/from Warsaw, but these are reportedly postponed until further notice.
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- Belarus - Poland: the Minsk - Warsaw overnight service no longer runs.
- Belgium - Luxembourg - Strasbourg - Switzerland: the Brussels - Basel direct service of 2 train pairs daily (plus a Luxembourg - Basel pair) was permanently withdrawn from 3 April 2016, coinciding with the opening of the LGV Est through to Strasbourg. Luxembourg - Basel is left without direct services, with significantly longer journey times as a result of poor connections.
- Denmark - Germany: Copenhagen/Aarhus - Berlin direct trains are cut back to operate between Denmark and Hamburg in reaction to the extremely high fuel consumption of diesel ICE-TD trains, which will be taken out of service completely by the end of 2016.
- Czech Republic - Germany: the overnight train between Prague and Oberhausen is cut back to start and end in Cologne. In the southbound direction it is decelerated by 2 hours between Berlin and Prague (arriving at 11:30!), running attached to the first EuroCity of the day in this section. This means Berlin loses its early connection to Dresden and Prague.
- France - Switzerland: Lille - Geneva TGVs no longer run.
- Germany (north - south): the overnight train between Berlin and Munich has been withdrawn, a good 3 years before the high speed line via Erfurt will be in full operation.
- Germany - Poland: the overnight train between Oberhausen and Warsaw has been cut back to start and end in Cologne.
- Germany - Slovakia - Hungary: direct EuroCity services between Berlin and Budapest via Bratislava have been cut back from 3 train pairs to 1 service in each direction. Within Germany most trains run to/from Hamburg (one train pair to/from Kiel), but Rostock and Stralsund are no longer served.
- Lithuania - Russia: the night train Vilnius - Moscow no longer operates, meaning there is longer a daily service between the two cities. In this direction the (non-daily) Kaliningrad - Moscow train is an attractive alternative, but it arrives in Vilnius in the middle of the night in the other direction.
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Timetable period 14.12.2014 - 12.12.2015
Jump to December 2014 Timetable Change Summary
The offline journey planner for PCs/laptops offered by Austrian Railways - and with several language options - was discontinued at the end of 2015. However, the Slovakian infrastructure manager still offers a very similar programme, albeit only in Slovak! Click here and scroll down to PCEuropa.exe (CP 2015/2016) to download it.
Austria - Czech Republic: ÖBB reports passenger numbers between Graz and Prague have quadrupled since the introduction of direct services every 2 hours in December 2014. Despite being accelerated by an hour, the end to end journey time remains about 7 hours. This provides yet more evidence that rail can be popular for journeys of longer than 4 hours, especially when there is no need to change trains.
Austria - Germany: The Eurocity Vindobona between Vienna and Berlin used to carry as many as 90 passengers per train between Austria and Germany, but rail might have lost two thirds of these since the train was scrapped in December 2015. Read more in this European Transport Conference presentation.
Bulgaria: The Bulgarian government has done a u-turn! On 1 Feb 2015 almost all the trains withdrawn in January 2015 were reinstated thanks to an additional 40m BGN funding package. A victory for campaigners! Click here for a list of the 140 services originally planned to be axed.
Eurostar has relented to public pressure, abandoning plans to force passengers with bikes to dismantle them before taking them on board (November 2015).
France - Germany - Poland - Belarus - Russia: The thrice-weekly Paris - Berlin - Warsaw - Moscow service was reduced in frequency to weekly from April 2015, somewhat undermining recently announced price cuts. However, from 18/19 June it was increased to twice weekly until mid-September and re-timed to operate overnight between Paris and Berlin with brand new sleeping cars. We demand that DB (i) shows the train correctly in its journey planner and on all sources of departure information at stations, and (ii) sells tickets online and at stations. Just imagine how popular this could be if it were to run at least 5 days a week, with couchette cars added between Berlin and Paris!
Germany - Italy: Dutch operator Treinreiswinkel operated a weekly car-carrying overnight train between Düsseldorf and Verona from July until the middle of
AugustSeptember 2015, the first direct connection between the populous Ruhrgebiet of Germany and Italy since 2006. You don't have to bring a vehicle along to travel on these trains, something DB Autozug could learn from. More info here.
Hungary - Serbia: The rail service between Röszke and Horgoš has been suspended following the completion of Hungary's border fence on 14 September 2015, which has severed the route. See for yourself by looking at this photo of the scene and this map. In the wake of the loss of passengers this caused, domestic Hungarian trains between Röszke and Szeged have also been cut, running for the last time on 31 October 2015. Will other cross-border routes follow...?
Moldova - Romania: The daily Chisinau - Bucharest train was reduced in frequency to thrice weekly from 23 March 2015.
Netherlands - France/Italy/Slovenia: EETC Autoslaaptrein services (overnight car-carrying trains) ceased without prior warning on 15 April 2015, having apparently succumbed to price hikes of 50% in the Netherlands and 30% in other countries for infrastructure usage and locomotive hire.
Norway - Sweden: After a period of uncertainty, the Oslo - Stockholm service was improved from 9 August 2015, with up to 3 train pairs and a best journey time about 1 hour quicker than before, plus catering for the first time in many years. Sadly the new service has apparently been plagued by punctuality problems thanks to the many long stretches of single track on the route.
Poland: recent situation. Almost all passenger trains in Poland are financially supported by the national government or the voivodoships. Unfortunately the amount of money available is decided on an annual basis and towards the end of each year, leading to a great deal of uncertainty about what will run in the following year... In some cases new services are started only for funding to be cut just a few months later. This start-stop approach also affects international trains: see this blog post, this article on cuts announced for the start of 2015 and the following list:
- Białystok - Hrodna/Grodno (Belarus): a new daily TLK service (as part of a through service to/from Kraków) was launched on 4 September 2016.
- Białystok - Kaunas (Lithuania): a new weekends only regional service of one daily train pair started on 17 June 2016. Although it operates on new 'Via Baltica' infrastructure in Lithuania, track condition in Poland is such that the trains take 4 hours 40 mins to cover the 250 km.
- Krzyz - Kostrzyn - Berlin: services were heavily disrupted by staff and rolling stock shortages at the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn from 26 July to 4 September 2016, although the direct Krzyz - Berlin train pair was restored (with DB staff) from 1 August.
- Warsaw - Minsk: the long-standing daily overnight train with convenient departure and arrival times was reduced in frequency to twice a week from 28 April 2015 and axed completely on 13 December 2015.
- Wrocław - Berlin (DE): the SPD in Berlin is running a campaign for the reinstatement of the EuroCity service that ran for the last time on 13 December 2014. In late 2015, the States of Berlin and Brandenburg announced they would financially support weekend services in summer 2016, although the Polish ministry of transport had declared that no money is available. UPDATE: the service will run between 30 April and
25 September 2016 8 January 2017, funded entirely by Germany according to the information available to us.
- Wrocław - Dresden (DE): Funding for these trains is in place on the German side of the border from December 2014 until December 2018. 4 days before the timetable change in December 2014, it was announced that financial support had been secured on the Polish side until 28 February 2015. On 20 February it was confirmed that the trains would not run from 1 March owing to a lack of money. This meant Wrocław had no direct services to/from Germany and a new 2 km gap in the European passenger network was created between Görlitz and Zgorzelec. Polish trains were granted permission by DB Netz to run into Görlitz station from 21 September 2015, making it possible to extend regional trains of the Polish operator from Zgorzelec to/from Görlitz from the 2015/16 timetable change. A further announcement was made on 24 September that money has been found by the government of Lower Silesia to fund 3 KD train pairs Wrocław - Dresden through 2016, also starting in December 2015. Bringing the story up to date, both the Dresden - Wrocław services and 6-7 pairs of additional KD trains across the Görlitz/Zgorzelec border began operating on 13 December 2015, the contracts having been signed just three days in advance!
- Wrocław - Trutnov (CZ): the Lubawka - Kralovec border crossing sees passenger trains only on summer weekends. Direct Wrocław - Trutnov trains did not run in 2015, but 3 pairs of Jelenia Gora - Trutnov trains were provided on weekends between 25 April and 31 August 2015.
- Kraków - Bohumín/Ostrava (CZ): this new service started on 14 December 2014 and ran for the last time just 17 days later! A truly absurd situation that leaves the Skawina - Oświęcim line with no passenger trains, just months after the completion of EU-financed upgrading!
- Poznan - Frankfurt (Oder) (DE): regional services ceased on 31 December 2014, just 5 months after they (re)started in August 2014. A weekend service primarily to serve students then resumed from 6 February 2015. Update: this service ran for the last time on 31 August 2015, following PR's decision to stop running all commercial services.
Spain: The overnight train between Madrid and Barcelona, which continued to/from Cerbère in France until December 2012, ran for the last time on 7 April 2015.
December 2014 timetable change summary:
- Austria - Germany: the EuroNight train between Cologne and Vienna is extended to/from Düsseldorf. Despite rumours of conversion to 'global pricing', the full range of tickets is thankfully still valid on this train...
- Austria - Hungary: additional EuroCity trains between Vienna and Budapest, forming an hourly service at peak times. One train pair is extended to/from Debrecen in Hungary... using Polish rolling stock, in an excellent example of good old cooperation and efficient use of assets!
- Austria - Italy: the EuroCity train pair Vienna - Venice reinstated last year continues to run and gains a restaurant. Funding for the popular MICOTRA service between Villach and Udine has been secured until at least December 2015. More EU kick-start funding for operations please! Services now run more often and a new station has been opened on the line between Lienz and Fortezza. There are also additional trains between Innsbruck and Bolzano.
- Austria - Poland: one EuroCity train pair between Vienna and Warsaw is extended to/from Gdynia.
- Austria - Switzerland: the EuroCity Transalpin Graz - Zürich regains its panorama car, offering a wonderful view of the Alps as the train negotiates the Arlberg Pass.
- Belgium - Netherlands: 'Benelux' InterCity trains from Brussels are increased in frequency to hourly and run through to/from Amsterdam for the first time since December 2012, albeit on a longer, slower route via Brussels Airport (why?). This means they reach Brussels just 37 minutes before some Eurostar departures, but common sense has prevailed and such connections are officially recognised.
- Bulgaria - Romania - Hungary: a new daily long-distance train between Sofia and Budapest via the new Danube Bridge 2 operates, travelling by day between Sofia and Craiova and overnight between Craiova and Budapest.
- Croatia - Slovenia: services are restored to the Čakovec - Središče - Ormož line, with 3 train pairs on weekdays. See also 'close but no cigar' below.
- Czech Republic - Germany: four new regional train pairs operate between Gera and Cheb via Plauen, reducing end to end journey times by about 20 minutes.
- Czech Republic - Poland: the daytime direct Eurocity train pair between Prague and Warsaw is reinstated. The Polish domestic section between Nysa and Głuchołazy regains two pairs of trains at weekends only, providing new journey opportunities between southern Poland and the Moravia region of the Czech Republic.
- France - Italy: Thello began a Marseille - Nice - Genova - Milan open access service under the EuroCity brand. The service started with a single, badly-timed train pair, but from 12 April 2015 it was enhanced by the addition of a further two train pairs between Nice and Milan at rather more passenger-friendly times. InterRail holders unfortunately receive only a 25% discount on full fares.
- Greece: the two pairs of international trains restored in May 2014 will continue, linking Thessaloniki with Sofia and Skopje/Belgrade. Trains on the latter route should be extended once a week in summer to/from Budapest.
- Hungary - Serbia: one of the Budapest - Belgrade train pairs deleted in December 2012 has been reinstated, restoring the service to 3 train pairs daily.
- Hungary - Slovenia: a direct service between Budapest and Ljubljana is reinstated after a gap of two years, this time with restaurant car (at least according to the Hungarian timetable). We hope that there will be no repeat of last year's partial bustitution on the Slovenian side owing to a "shortage of diesel locomotives".
- Hungary - Ukraine: a new direct service runs between Budapest and Kiev.
- Serbia - Croatia - Slovenia: the overnight train between Belgrade and Ljubljana via Zagreb is reinstated.
- Switzerland - UK: Geneva - London journeys will be faster and more convenient four days a week thanks to better connections (of about 40 minutes) in Lille Europe.
Back to Current News
Close but no cigar...
- Austria - Czech Republic: new 2-hourly RailJet service between Graz and Prague via Vienna. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of through trains from the Czech Republic to Villach, the Berlin - Vienna direct train and comfortable compartment coaches.
- Belgium - Germany: the frequency of regional trains between eastern Belgium and Aachen is doubled to hourly, with much better connections at both ends. However, a change of train in Welkenraedt is now required if travelling on regional trains between Aachen and the largest Belgian city in the region, Liège.
- (Bosnia -) Croatia - Hungary: the border crossing between Beli Manastir (HR) and Magyarboly (HU) regains local trains, but the long-distance train between Sarajevo and Budapest cut two years ago has not been reinstated.
- Croatia - Slovenia: two afternoon train pairs are reintroduced on the Ðurmanec - Sveti Rok ob Sotli - Rogatec line, closed to passengers back in 1994. Why no morning trains? Two train pairs have also been restored to the Čakovec - Mursko Središče - Lendava route... on Saturdays only, with no mention in the Slovenian Railways timetable.
- Czech Republic - Slovakia: several additional services operate between Prague and Košice, scene of a price war between the two national railway companies and two private 'open access' operators. However, this has come at the cost of one of the three sleeper train pairs on the route.
- France - UK: a new direct service London - Lyon - Avignon - Marseille will run up to four days a week... in this direction only! On the return journey passengers will be forced to detrain in Lille Europe to pass through security and passport control, adding 60-70 minutes to journey times. So why not simply provide better connections as per the Geneva route mentioned above?
- Germany - Poland: on 10 Dec 2014, just 4 days before the timetable change, it was confirmed that Poland had secured funding to run the Dresden - Wrocław trains until the end of February 2015. On 20 February it was announced that the money has run out: the service of three train pairs ran for the last time on 28 February 2015. This creates a new 2 km gap in the European passenger train network.
- Germany - Sweden: the Berlin - Malmö overnight train will run again in 2015, but with limited running days and only very basic couchette accommodation. An improvement this year is the option to stay on board in Berlin until 07:00, 40 minutes after arrival: we welcome such attention to detail. Click here for a preliminary timetable (switch to the Swedish version for the latest info).
- Italy - Slovenia: service boosted from two to five train pairs between Villa Opicina and Sežana, which since the Slovenian trains gained authorisation to run in Italy (on 5 January 2015) really are trains, not buses! However, a gap remains on the Italian side of the border between Villa Opicina and the rest of the network in Trieste...
- Norway - Sweden: an additional weekday train pair runs between Oslo and Gothenburg, but the northbound train departs far too early in the morning (at 04:30!) to be considered by most travellers.
- Romania - Serbia: originally announced as starting at the timetable change, it now appears that a direct train pair between Bucharest and Belgrade via the Vršac - Timişoara border crossing might resume in June 2015 after an absence of 3.5 years.
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- Albania: there is still no replacement in sight for the city centre station in Tiranë, closed in summer 2013 to make way for boulevard widening. The line to Pogradec, close to the border with Macedonia, was severed by road construction works in September 2012, with no indication that it will be reopened.
- Austria - Germany: the direct EuroCity train Vindobona between Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna ceased after 57 years' continuous operation.
- Austria - Czech Republic/Germany/Poland: EuroCity trains to/from northern Europe no longer run as far south as Villach, the border station with Slovenia.
- Belgium - Luxembourg - Strasbourg - Switzerland: the Brussels - Basel service is worsened with every timetable change. This one is no exception: trains are decelerated by a further 30 minutes. The route will be split in Luxembourg from June or December 2016.
- Bulgaria - Turkey: the overnight train Sofia - Istanbul remains severely disrupted by construction works in Bulgaria and around Istanbul.
- Bulgaria - Romania: the overnight train Sofia - Bucharest appears to have disappeared, possibly as a result of the withdrawal of Russia - Balkans through carriages. This leaves one surviving day train pair that takes 9.5 hrs...
- Czech Republic - Denmark: the overnight train Prague - Copenhagen was cut back to Duisburg/Oberhausen in Germany.
- Czech Republic - Germany: Cranzahl - Vejprty lost its few remaining passenger trains. Vejprty - Chomutov is served only at weekends and only between Easter and October.
- Czech Republic - Netherlands: the overnight train Prague - Amsterdam was cut back to Duisburg/Oberhausen in Germany.
- Czech Republic - Poland: the Polish transport ministry has decided NOT to fund the reinstatement of trains between Bohumin (in the Ostrava region) and Wrocław via Chałupki, despite announcements made in the autumn.
- Czech Republic - Poland: the new regional service from Bohumín and Ostrava to Kraków ran for the last time on 31 December 2014, a mere 17 days after it was launched. We have not made this up!
- Czech Republic - Switzerland: the overnight train between Prague and Zürich is decelerated by one hour in the Prague direction Sundays to Thursdays in winter.
- Croatia - Germany: the seasonal overnight train between Rijeka and Munich did not operate at all.
- Denmark - Czech Republic / The Netherlands / Switzerland: all overnight trains from Denmark were withdrawn.
- France - Germany: all City Night Line overnight trains were withdrawn, leaving Paris - Hamburg with no direct trains and Paris - Berlin with only the tricky-to-book sleeper train operated by Russian Railways, which does not run every day!
- France - Spain: despite the daytime Paris - Barcelona service remaining at a mere 2 train pairs per day (that take all day), overnight trains between Paris and Barcelona/Madrid have not been reinstated.
- Germany - Luxembourg: InterCity trains between Norddeich and Luxembourg via Cologne, Bonn and Trier no longer run west of Koblenz, bringing an end to direct connections between the populous north-west of Germany and Luxembourg. Although the replacement regional connections between Koblenz and Luxembourg will run hourly, we do not think these trains are comfortable enough for long-distance travellers.
- Germany - Poland: the Hamburg - Berlin - Wrocław Eurocity train Wawel was withdrawn without replacement, the final nail in the coffin being the competing IC Bus introduced by DB in 2013, which ran 3x daily in summer 2014 (since also cut back to one pair!). Never mind the millions of Euros invested in the modernisation of the line between Wegliniec and Wrocław... The Frankfurt (Oder) - Poznan regional service was withdrawn on 31 Dec 2014, a mere 5 months after it was introduced, but partially reinstated (at weekends) from 6 Feb 2015.
- Hungary - Poland: the direct EuroCity train Varsovia between Budapest and Warsaw no longer operates.
- Lithuania - Poland: the 'temporary' suspension of the daily international connection between Warsaw and Vilnius (with two changes en route) since September 2013 continues... Click here for alternative options.
- The Netherlands - Poland: the overnight train was withdrawn between Amsterdam and Duisburg/Oberhausen.
- Romania - Serbia: trains between Jimbolia and Kikinda ceased on 31 August 2014.
- Romania - Turkey: the overnight train Bucharest - Istanbul remains severely disrupted by construction works in Bulgaria and around Istanbul.
- Russia - Balkans: direct trains/through carriages routed via Ukraine suspended as a result of tensions between Russia and Ukraine and the collapse of the Ruble.
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Timetable period 08.12.2013 - 13.12.2014
Jump to December 2013 Timetable Change Summary
Many international City Night Line services cut in late 2014. The following routes were scrapped in December 2014 (routes to/from Copenhagen on 1 November 2014):
Meanwhile Swiss group umverkehR is running a petition to persuade SBB and the Swiss government to reverse the cuts of recent years and develop a strategy for international rail services. Click here for more information (in French and German) and to sign.
So what is going on? DSB (Danish railways) has blamed the loss of the Copenhagen routes on the seasonal nature of demand and construction work on the Danish island of Fyn in summer 2015. However, DB appears to want to withdraw from this market, having already started to take rolling stock out of service as it becomes due for heavy maintenance. Complicating matters is the situation with subsidy for the service within Denmark, with different stories emerging from DB, DSB and the Danish government.
In recent times the service has gained a reputation for poorer service in return for higher fares (for which DB is responsible) and timetabling/booking difficulties, thanks mainly to the inability of the Dutch, French and German infrastructure managers to plan their construction work at least 3 months in advance. Infrastructure managers continue to increase track access charges, further weakening the economic case for night trains. DB has stated that operating costs (the sum of track access, locomotive hire and personnel) in France are 70% higher per train km than in Germany. In the case of the routes to Amsterdam, locomotives must be fitted with a new signalling system (ETCS) to haul the trains between Emmerich and Utrecht, adding greatly to operating costs. In the meantime airlines continue to enjoy their tax-free status. Put together, this would appear to signal the beginning of the end of international night trains and car-carrying trains to/from Germany, which DB has said must cover their operating costs (or else be cut) by 2017. Despite all this, the trains are not empty: the demand is there! The key question is: who should be responsible for running such trains given the unsupportive framework conditions? Click here to read a related opinion piece in the European Rail Journal.
Major EuroCity cuts from December 2014: on 14 December 2014 Berlin and Dresden lose their direct connections to Vienna and Villach, the train between Berlin and Wrocław weill be axed and Budapest loses its direct link with Warsaw.
Journey planning: Although DB will no longer offer an offline journey planner from the end of 2014, ÖBB continues to do so: it can be downloaded for Windows here.
- Night trains to Italy/Germany/Switzerland: Austria's ÖBB is apparently poised to make a 46m EUR investment in night train rolling stock, in complete contrast to Germany. Read more.
- EuroCity trains on the Brenner route between Innsbruck and Italy continue to be a success story, with longer trains and additional services beyond Verona to Venice and Bologna from April 2014.
- Austria - Italy: regional authorities in Italy are developing proposals to support the reintroduction of long-distance trains from Vienna to Trieste via Ljubljana (Slovenia). News article (in German).
- EuroCity trains on the Brenner route between Munich and Italy continue to be a success story, with longer trains and additional services beyond Verona to Venice and Bologna from April 2014.
- 2-hourly regional trains between Dečin and Rumburk via Bad Schandau, Sebnitz and the 'missing link' to Dolní Poustevna started on 5 July 2014 and are carrying more passengers than expected!
- Bad Bentheim - Hengelo (NL): local trains on this route will be reinstated (and extended to/from Bielefeld) in 2017. More here.
Greece - Macedonia - Serbia: A Belgrade - Skopje - Thessaloniki train pair was introduced on 9/10 May 2014, thus restoring international trains to/from Greece after a gap of 38 months. While this is welcome, we hope the planned 05:00 southbound departure time from Skopje will eventually be shifted later, giving the train a fighting chance to attract leisure travellers. Update: as of March 2015, the southbound train leaves Skopje at 04:45!
Italy - Slovenia: regional authorities in Italy are developing proposals to support the reintroduction of long-distance trains from Vienna to Trieste via Ljubljana (Slovenia). News article (in German).
The Netherlands - UK: Any Dutch Station tickets to/from London via the Channel Tunnel are once again available from NS International.
Poland: Kłodzko to Kudowa Zdrój was expected to reopen on 30 May 2014, reducing the length of the cross-border gap to Náchod Běloves station in the Czech Republic to a mere 5 km walk...
Serbia: Services between Jimbolia and Kikinda (Romania) ceased on 31 August 2014, along with passenger trains on the Serbian domestic routes Subotica - Kikinda and Zrenjanin - Belgrade. The Sombor - Vrbas line lost its passenger trains on 14 December 2014.
Sweden: National operator SJ stopped selling international point to point tickets (except to Copenhagen, Narvik and Oslo) from 1 August 2014.
December 2013 timetable change summary:
Close but no cigar...
- Croatia - Hungary: the Zagreb - Budapest service has been restored to two daily direct trains in each direction.
- Croatia - Slovenia: a service between Karlovac and Metlika will be reinstated on 15 December 2013.
- France - Germany: the Paris - Freiburg TGV train pair introduced in August 2007 continues.
- France - Spain: new direct AGV trains operate between Lyon/Marseille/Toulouse and Madrid/Barcelona, to be followed (possibly) by Geneva - Barcelona from
March sometime in 2014. See also separate story under bad news below.
- Italy - Austria: a daytime Eurocity train pair (with Europe's most comfy compartment coaches) has been restored between Venice and Vienna after three years' absence.
- Switzerland - Austria: the Zürich - Austria route (via the Arlberg Pass) once again hosts a Eurocity train pair (with extremely comfortable Austrian compartment coaches) in the form of the 'Transalpin' Zürich - Graz, a big improvement over RailJet!
- Belgium - France: a slight increase in the number of 'Benelux' InterCity trains, but there are still 2-hour gaps and - because trains do not run north of Den Haag - passengers to/from Amsterdam must endure a tight, stressful, non-cross-platform interchange in Roosendaal.
- Germany - Sweden: the Berlin - Malmö overnight train ran again on selected dates in 2014 until mid-August, with a lone daytime train for good measure. We would have featured this under 'good news', but it does not convey sleeping cars and running days are extremely limited.
- Italy - Slovenia: two train pairs from Sežana to Ljubljana start back from Villa Opicina in Italy, restoring passenger trains to this border crossing. However, a gap in the Italian rail network remains between Villa Opicina and Trieste, despite the efforts of SŽ to restore services.
- Slovenia - Hungary: a service between Ljubljana and Budapest is once again offered via the shortest possible route, but a change of train is required in Maribor. Thankfully through tickets are available at reasonable prices. The train was reported as being substituted by buses or railcars between Hodoš and Maribor from late February until late June owing to "a shortage of diesel locomotives".
Back to Current News
- Greece remained isolated from all its neighbours at the beginning of 2014! See above for improvements from 9/10 May 2014.
- Albania: there is still no replacement in sight for the station in Tiranë, closed in summer 2013 to make way for boulevard widening. The line to Pogradec, close to the border with Macedonia, was severed by road construction works in September 2012, with no indication that it will be reopened.
- Balkans: no trains between Belgrade (Serbia) and Romania; the poor service of just one train pair between Belgrade and each of Zagreb and Sofia (overnight but without sleeping cars!) will not be improved. Cross-border trains between Bosnia and the Croatian port town of Ploče ceased in December 2013, and ALL passenger trains on the Croatian side of this border finished on 24 April 2014. A total of 10% of domestic services in Croatia were cut at the same time.
- Belgium - Luxembourg - Strasbourg - Switzerland: trains no longer run east of Basel in either direction; the morning train from Brussels is decelerated by 26 minutes until 14 June; the SBB carriages are replaced by SNCB/NMBS coaches without laptop sockets.
- Czech Republic - Bulgaria: the direct through coaches no longer run.
- Czech Republic - Poland: the daytime direct Eurocity train pair between Prague and Warsaw no longer runs. Trains between Bohumin and Wrocław via Chałupki are also cut.
- France - Italy: withdrawal of the overnight train between Paris and Rome; Limone - Breil-sur-Roya - Ventimiglia is likely to lose passenger trains in June 2014.
- France - Germany: withdrawal of the last remaining classic Eurocity train pair between Strasbourg and Munich.
- France - southern England: the traditional train - ferry - train route via Dieppe - Newhaven has become even more unattractive, thanks to the withdrawal of the last remaining direct trains between Dieppe and Paris. Journey times are extended by 30 minutes. As of 16 Dec 2013 journey planners were not showing the replacement shuttle trains (ordered by the Region Haute-Normandie) between Dieppe and Rouen.
- France - Spain: overnight trains between Paris and Barcelona/Madrid, together with direct daytime trains between Montpellier and Alacant along the scenic coastal route via Barcelona and Valencia, were suspended on 14 Dec 2013 in favour of direct Paris - Barcelona daytime TGVs that started the following day. Yes, the journey time has been shrunk considerably... but is still 6 hrs 30 mins from Paris to Barcelona! That's a very long time in trains designed with the same level of comfort as short-haul planes! Add 3 hours for journeys to/from Madrid, and you can see that these routes are eminently suitable for night trains or higher standards of comfort at the very least. We welcome the introduction of new daytime high speed trains, but condemn the accompanying cuts and reduction in choice.
- Germany - Netherlands: local trains between Bad Bentheim and Hengelo withdrawn.
- Germany - Poland: the Hamburg - Berlin - Wrocław Eurocity train 'Wawel' no longer conveys carriages with laptop sockets. Travel to Kraków is faster via Warsaw!
- Poland - Lithuania: the 'temporary' suspension of the daily international connection between Warsaw and Vilnius (with two changes en route) since September 2013 is extended until
the end of July 2014 at the earliest sometime in 2015 owing to construction work, with no rail replacement service on the Lithuanian side! Click here for alternative options.
- Western Europe - Russia: the through coaches from Basel to Minsk and Berlin to Saratov, Tchelyabinsk and Novosibirsk were withdrawn, destroying the last direct rail links between western Europe and Asian Russia.
The situation in south-east Europe remains dire. Back in 2007 it was still possible to travel between Ljubljana/Budapest/Vienna and Thessaloniki/Istanbul without changing, but today journeys are an ordeal rather than a pleasure. The lack of day train between Belgrade and Sofia renders many trans-Balkan rail journeys extremely difficult if not completely unfeasible.
Photo courtesy of afc45014 on Flickr.
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Timetable period 09.12.2012 - 07.12.2013
France - Switzerland: a new cross-border regional network centred on Geneva is to be launched in December 2017. More here.
End of the line for German car trains? There is increasing press speculation that DB will end Autozug operations and instead transport cars by truck (!) from sometime in 2017, leading to the loss of direct trains from northern Germany to southern Austria, France and Italy. Sadly these trains are unavailable to passengers who do not bring a car or motorcycle along, a bizarre and discriminatory policy that has no doubt contributed to the declining economic viability of the network. It is not yet known if the regular City Night Line (sleeper) trains that also convey car transporter wagons will also be affected. With this loss and SNCF's withdrawal from the car train market several years ago, only a handful of routes in/to/from central and south-east Europe will remain. Will Autozug's passengers travel on day trains and hire a car at their destination, or simply drive all the way...? UPDATE: trains on the last remaining Autozug route from Berlin's Wannsee terminal (to Munich) ran for the last time on 26 April 2014.
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