A new rail cooperative in Europe is setting out to redefine train travel across the continent.
European Sleeper is positioning itself as a railway company dedicated to elevating the overnight train experience in Europe. The company plans to begin raising money in May from individuals and private investors under a cooperative model before launching operations in April 2022.
Its first route will run overnight between Brussels and Prague. Trains are slated to operate three times a week, then expand to daily service. Once service does start, passengers can expect complimentary coffee and internet, breakfast in bed, and easy bike transport options.
Ticket prices have yet to be announced, according to the European Sleeper website.
The company is preparing to launch at a time when rail travel could be on the verge of a comeback in Europe. Several airlines have struggled, not only due to the pandemic, but also as new efforts to manage global climate change have surfaced.
France, for example, recently voted to ban domestic flights where travel could be completed by train in under two and a half hours. The move is part of a plan that hopes to significantly slash French carbon emissions by 2030. Furthermore, overnight trains offer a benefit that airlines do not: direct access from city center to city center.
European Sleeper is the product of two European entrepreneurs — Elmer van Buuren of Train2EU and Chris Engelsman of Noord West Express — and a partnership with Czech train operator RegioJet.
"Elmer has been fascinated by sleeper trains from childhood on. Boarding in the Netherlands in the evening, sleeping in a proper bed, and waking up in the morning in another world," the company's website reads. "Elmer read timetables in bed like they were exciting boys' books and has always wanted to become director of his own railway company."
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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