Fill your journey with music on an overnight jazz train from Rotterdam to Berlin

Alex Butler
Lonely Planet Writer

If you love the retro glamour of train travel and jazz music, there’s a new opportunity to bring those passions together on Jazz Night Express from Rotterdam to Berlin.

Spend the night on a jazz train. Image by Sakai Raven / EyeEm / Getty Images

A new overnight train experience will bring travellers between the European cities, with performances on three on-board jazz stages. Chris Engelsman, one of the organizers of the event, told Lonely Planet that he started the organization and website Noord West Express because he’s a fan of travelling by night train. “In my experience it’s a romantic, comfortable and efficient way to travel – and of course sustainable”.

He was frustrated to find that there are no night trains running to and from the Netherlands since December 2016. But, assuming there were other people like him who would be interested, he decided to charter a train for a night service and is now looking for passengers to get on board this June.

Inside the train. Image courtesy of Chris Engelsman.

To make it a success, he realized that it needed to be “one of the best night trains ever”, with both the journey and destinations attracting travellers. That’s when he decided to add music, and jazz seemed like the perfect option to go along with train travel. The train starts in Rotterdam, stopping in Amsterdam on its way to Berlin, and according to Engelsman, Rotterdam and Berlin are great destinations because both are real jazz capitals.

While running your own chartered train service may sound tricky, Engelsman says it’s possible for anyone to run their own train – with the right permits, licenses and payment for train track usage. However, they are using a company that helps organize all the scheduling, train staff and more – now they just need to fill up the train with travellers.

Organizers Gilles de Sitter, who put together the jazz program, and Chris Engelsman. Image courtesy of Chris Engelsman.

If this year’s Jazz Night Express is a success, the volunteers hope to run services two or three times next year, with the ultimate hope of extending to other destinations. Find out more about this year’s Jazz Night Express here.