The boom in sleeper trains continues as the so-called "Good Night Train" launches this week.
Moreover, if you're up for a weekend getaway in Berlin from London (without the hassle of flying), you can now hop on a sleeper train and make it happen. European Sleeper has aligned its schedules with those of the Eurostar to enable passengers from London to easily transfer to the Good Night Train in Brussels.
That means if you want to connect from London, you can board a Eurostar train in St Pancras on Friday afternoon and, in about two hours, switch trains in Brussels. The changeover will be quick. As night falls, you'll drift off to sleep and (hopefully) wake up refreshed in Berlin on Saturday morning after enjoying breakfast on board.
Europe is investing steadily in its rail network and continuously adding new options as alternatives to short-haul flights – an expansion largely fueled by climate concerns. In recent months we've seen the launch of NightJet's sleeper train from Hamburg-to-Stockholm sleeper train, as well as the introduction of an overnight service connecting Prague and Dresden to Basel.
New routes are opening up all the time from state-run companies and privately operated ventures alike, including the start-up Midnight Trains, which will soon offer a "hotels-on-wheels"-style journey from Paris to the sun-drenched corners of southern Europe. There's also Alpen-Sylt Nachtexpress, which currently travels between the mighty North Sea and the majestic Alps. And in 2024, Italy's Trenitalia is setting its sights on a grand expansion with an overnight service from Paris to Madrid that will ultimately extend to Milan.
In the meantime, if you want to take advantage of European Sleeper services, the Good Night Train launches this week and will run three times a week, eventually becoming a nightly service by 2024. The Brussels-to-Berlin route departs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while the Berlin-to-Brussels route departs every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Passengers will start on the Eurostar train from London, departing St Pancras at 3:30pm and arriving at 6:04pm in Brussels Midi, where they'll board the European Sleeper. This train will then make its way to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, rolling into the central station at 6:48am the following day. Breakfast on board is included.
The return journey from Berlin is equally convenient. The train departs Berlin at 10:56pm and arrives in Brussels the following day at 9:27am, perfectly timed for the next train to London departing from Midi at 9:51am. If you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, there's another train option leaving at 12:51pm, and regular departures are available throughout the day.
As well as London via Eurostar, the Good Night Train will also provide a link between Paris and Berlin (passengers can swap trains in Brussels to the Thalysto Paris) and Brussels and Warsaw (passengers can change in Berlin to the EuroCity to Warsaw).
One-way prices from Brussels to Berlin start at €49 for a seat, €79 for a couchette and €109 for a berth in a sleeper compartment. Bikes can be added for a fee of €24, and pets can be transported if you've booked a private room (but note that pets can't travel on the Eurostar to and from London).
Children under the age of four travel for free, while those ages 11 and under travel at a reduced fare.
Unfortunately, Interrail/Eurail passes cannot be used on the European Sleeper service but can be used on the Eurostar (or RegioJet if you opt to take that train from London).
Tickets from London to Brussels on the Eurostar generally start from €56 – which makes the cheapest all-in option €105 for a one-way ticket.
Is the Good Night Train cheaper than flying?
The cost of flying versus taking the night service depends on various factors, such as your booking time and travel period. Generally, flying during the off-season will work out cheaper. However, if you're planning to travel during peak season, especially for summer weekends, you might discover that the Good Night Train offers better value.
For example, when searching for London to Berlin airfares for a July trip departing on a Friday evening (around the same time the train would leave London), we find that round-trip airfare with easyJet is €301 (£261), while British Airways charges €479 (£415) - and that's excluding baggage fees. Ryanair offers a slightly cheaper option at €277 (£240), but keep in mind that it requires an earlier departure time on Friday.
How to get tickets
Tickets are on sale through the European Sleeper website.