Brussels-Vienna night train returns as Europe eyes flying alternatives

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,650
Any plans for a Brussels to Oslo service?

I'm thinking of organizing a cross country ski trip to Norway next winter, and the only non-stop flights from where I live are to London. I figured I could take the Eurostar to Brussels, and change, but when I started looking up train service there's nothing really direct between Brussels and Oslo. In fact, all of the possibilities involve at least 2-3 connections in various places in Germany and Denmark, and one involves a 12 hour bus ride. I suspect, I'll just have to bite the bullet and take a connecting flight at Heathrow. But....if they have something more direct, I'd like to use it.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1,909
Any plans for a Brussels to Oslo service?

I'm thinking of organizing a cross country ski trip to Norway next winter, and the only non-stop flights from where I live are to London. I figured I could take the Eurostar to Brussels, and change, but when I started looking up train service there's nothing really direct between Brussels and Oslo. In fact, all of the possibilities involve at least 2-3 connections in various places in Germany and Denmark, and one involves a 12 hour bus ride. I suspect, I'll just have to bite the bullet and take a connecting flight at Heathrow. But....if they have something more direct, I'd like to use it.
https://www.seat61.com/Norway.htm

www.seat61.com show a “all train way” over three days, but the train, ferry route save you a day, and sound enjoyable.
 
Last edited:

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
262
More on Vienna - Brussels overnight:

I looked up the Summer 1970 schedule and out of Vienna at night there was quite a parade west through Linz - Passau - Nuremburg - Wuerzburg. The Wien-Oostende-Express carried 1st and 2nd class cars, liegewagens (couchettes), sleeping cars and a dining car. Much of the year it split at Wuerzburg. One section continued to Oostende and other reached to Copenhagen via Hamburg. In seasonal peaks the northern section ran about half an hour later as a separate train. They were followed by the last sleeping car train of the night, the Wien-Holland-Express. It had a connection in Wuerzburg for the north.

This was all led from Linz by a train that today seems from another world. It basically was overnight from Linz to Dortmund and Linz to Hamburg, with a bewildering array of through cars gathered in Linz. The winner for obscurity was a Budapest - Vienna - Linz - Dortmund 1st/2nd Class compartment car from the Orient Express via the Red-White Courier.

The northern branch of this corridor was important back then because it went around, not through, East Germany. However, there was a lot of travel on the leg to the Ruhr and Belgium. Nightjet may have rediscovered a good thing.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,650
https://www.seat61.com/Norway.htm

www.seat61.com show a “all train way” over three days, but the train, ferry route save you a day, and sound enjoyable.
Looks like the all-train route has you change trains in Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg, Copenhagen, and Gothenburg. If you take the ferry, you can avoid the change in Gothenburg.

Despite the higher-speed trains in Europe, London - Hamburg is an all-day ride, and it seems that you can't do London - Copenhagen in a day. Also, Oslo - Copenhagen is an 8 1/2 hour ride.

If I flew from the States, I would be arriving at 8 or 9 AM, and I probably wouldn't be able to get to St. Pancras much before noon, what with customs and immigration and the long tube ride across town. I wouldn't be able to take any early morning Eurostars, so I'd probably want to stay in Brussels rather than Hamburg. I'd be pretty jet lagged in Brussels after a transatlantic flight, a run across London on the Tube, and a Eurostar ride from there. On the other hand, I'd like to minimize what I pay for hotels, if possible. On the way back from Oslo, I'd definitely want to spend the last night in London and not try to catch a plane while taking a trip with this many connections.

Also, what's luggage handling like, especially if I were to try to take my skis along? Maybe I should just rent them in Norway.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1,909
Seat 61 has multiple route show with different locations for breaks. Your arrival times and how you deal with Jet-Lag will dictate your travel after arrival.

Rent ski would be easy on the back.

If I win lottery my next adventure would be a night train run in partnership with NightJet from Hamburg to Oslo. So if you got time to wait I am currently saving my pennies in the event I don’t win lottery.
 

Long Train Runnin'

Conductor
Joined
Jun 13, 2008
Messages
3,241
Despite the higher-speed trains in Europe, London - Hamburg is an all-day ride, and it seems that you can't do London - Copenhagen in a day. Also, Oslo - Copenhagen is an 8 1/2 hour ride.
I think my biggest hang up with the European train travel I've been doing is that even with high speeds and nice equipment Europe is just a large place.

I work for a company based in Salzburg, and always try to incorporate as much train travel as I can into my visits. There are lots of places even intra Europe where driving is still faster. Which, always comes as a surprise to me since "Europe is covered in High Speed Rail".

Although, there are still some very interesting trains that travel East from Vienna each night. My favorite was boarding a massive 20 car night train at Salzburg, and waking up traveling in the opposite direction we had left from, and on arrival in Zagreb just being a two car consist.

If you have all day there are some pretty amazing trains out there that take all day. The Barcelona-Paris TGV is a wonderful day. Also, the OBB Budapest to Zurich train can really take you from two completely different cities over the course of rather long day.

Much like I have long since missed the glory days of American railroading, it appears that Europe has changed dramatically as well. Plus, almost everyone at my company thinks I am insane for riding the rails all over Europe. As they fail to see the point, and often make fun of OBB the Austrian railroad. I remind them that my home railroad is NJ Transit, so the offerings in Austria are quite a step up from what I am used too.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,200
We expect to take the Cologne - Vienna and Vienna - Bucharest OBB Nightjet trains this summer. Will write those journeys up if anyone is interested?

Our start point is London to Brussels with Eurostar, changing to a Thalys train to Cologne before boarding the Nightjet south. Although we had the option of the new Brussels - Vienna Nightjet the chance to spend 6 hours or so in Cologne was a bigger attraction.
 
Last edited:

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
18,962
We expect to take the Cologne - Vienna and Vienna - Bucharest OBB Nightet trains this summer. Will write those journeys up if anyone is interested?

Our start point is London to Brussels with Eurostar, changing to a Thalys train to Cologne before boarding the Nightjet south. Although we had the option of the new Brussels - Vienna Nightjet the chance to spend 6 hours or so in Cologne was a bigger attraction.
Looking forward to your trip report Jamie, have a blast like yall usually do!
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,554
Any plans for a Brussels to Oslo service?

I'm thinking of organizing a cross country ski trip to Norway next winter, and the only non-stop flights from where I live are to London. I figured I could take the Eurostar to Brussels, and change, but when I started looking up train service there's nothing really direct between Brussels and Oslo. In fact, all of the possibilities involve at least 2-3 connections in various places in Germany and Denmark, and one involves a 12 hour bus ride. I suspect, I'll just have to bite the bullet and take a connecting flight at Heathrow. But....if they have something more direct, I'd like to use it.
Probably not that route per se, but the odds seem to be looking better for something like Malmo-Brussels (since OBB and SJ are taking the lead on this). I'm wondering if we might not see someone step up in France to offer something other than the half-assed service that is the remaining stuff in France (e.g. there wasn't even a snack car on the Paris-Nice train when Charlie and I took it in 2017, no air conditioning, etc...)
 

cirdan

Conductor
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,371
Actually it's not a new service but the existing Vienna to Dusseldorf / Cologne has been (re) extended to Brussels.

OBB doesn't have the equipment to add any new services right now. Some of the hand-me-down equipment they are using now is in urgent need of replacement and they are awaiting the delivery of the new Siemens cars as well as some day cars they are converting to night cars in their own workshops. When these become available, we may see some real service growth. Vienna to Amsterdam is on the radar apparently.
 

cirdan

Conductor
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,371
Any plans for a Brussels to Oslo service?

I'm thinking of organizing a cross country ski trip to Norway next winter, and the only non-stop flights from where I live are to London. I figured I could take the Eurostar to Brussels, and change, but when I started looking up train service there's nothing really direct between Brussels and Oslo. In fact, all of the possibilities involve at least 2-3 connections in various places in Germany and Denmark, and one involves a 12 hour bus ride. I suspect, I'll just have to bite the bullet and take a connecting flight at Heathrow. But....if they have something more direct, I'd like to use it.
I understand Swedish Railways are looking into a Stockholm to Aachen train, which will connect with an Oslo train at Malmo. I'm not sure if its been approved yet though or whether it will start in December 2020 or Deceber 2021.
 

slasher-fun

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
48
It's a "work in progress", but they still have to make an offcial RFP, find operators and rolling stock, etc.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,192
https://www.seat61.com/Norway.htm
www.seat61.com show a “all train way” over three days, but the train, ferry route save you a day, and sound enjoyable.
I am sorry to see on Seat 61's page that there are no longer any ferries between the UK and Scandinavia. In 1979 and 1983, I enjoyed taking the Stavanger to Newcastle ferry, and the Bergen to Thurso (via Toshavn in the Faroes) ferry. Ah, the memories! Wonder how anyone gets a car to the Faroes or Iceland these days, as I see Smyril Lines is no longer operating a service.

We expect to take the Cologne - Vienna and Vienna - Bucharest OBB Nightjet trains this summer. Will write those journeys up if anyone is interested?
Yes, please.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1,909
I understand Swedish Railways are looking into a Stockholm to Aachen train, which will connect with an Oslo train at Malmo. I'm not sure if its been approved yet though or whether it will start in December 2020 or Deceber 2021.
It's a "work in progress", but they still have to make an offcial RFP, find operators and rolling stock, etc.
Why Aachen it seem to be a weird place to start or end a train service. Understanding it very expensive to run trains in Brussels but Aachen is a weird.
 

cirdan

Conductor
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,371
Why Aachen it seem to be a weird place to start or end a train service. Understanding it very expensive to run trains in Brussels but Aachen is a weird.
I know. That's what i thought too.

But maybe it's just a thing with night trains that they are not really competitive between big cities, where flying is easier, but between smaller cities that don't have the same access to an airport. Before reaching Aaachen, the train will be stopping in loads of other smaller places, which would jointly make up its economic justification (plus passengers transferring to connecting trains). And then, having done that, you've got to end somewhere. Ideally in a place that is suited for cleaning and restocking the train.

Until not so long ago there used to be night trains that finished at Lörrach, at Perpignan, at Ventimiglia.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,200
I know. That's what i thought too.

But maybe it's just a thing with night trains that they are not really competitive between big cities, where flying is easier, but between smaller cities that don't have the same access to an airport. Before reaching Aaachen, the train will be stopping in loads of other smaller places, which would jointly make up its economic justification (plus passengers transferring to connecting trains). And then, having done that, you've got to end somewhere. Ideally in a place that is suited for cleaning and restocking the train.

Until not so long ago there used to be night trains that finished at Lörrach, at Perpignan, at Ventimiglia.
There's a connection between all the places mentioned, they are all on or near international borders. Not sure how that helps the question above but it does connect all those places.
 
Group Builder
Top