A new night train serving Belgium may be in the pipeline, as two private individuals are looking to start operating the 'European Sleeper' from April 2022.
Two Dutch night train enthusiasts are behind the plans for the train, of which the first destination will be announced sometime in April, according to De Standaard.
“It remains to be seen whether European Sleeper's plans will actually be realised, but it looks very promising to us. We have been working on night trains for years and have a lot of experience with how to run them,” said Chris Engelsman, who previously introduced the one-time night train Jazz Night Express.
For this project, Engelsman has joined forces with Elmer van Buuren, who is an active member of the Dutch foundation Train2EU and previously worked with Dutch railway company NS.
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As both men do not have a licence to run trains, they have been in contact with the Dutch NS, and Belgian railway companies SNCB and Infrabel to assist in the operation.
The project is set to connect Belgium and the Netherlands with unserved destinations, possibly Copenhagen, Prague, Warsaw or Milan, to not compete with national railway companies, and is hoping to attract travellers who are looking for more ecologically conscious trips.
The concept of night trains has gained popularity since the re-introduction of the ‘Nightjet’, the first train of its type in Belgium since 2003, which started running at the beginning of 2020.
The train service between Brussels and Vienna ran for the last time on 5 November due to the coronavirus crisis, but may restart again from 25 March at the earliest, depending on the pandemic’s evolution, Austrian railroad company ÖBB said in January.
Railway companies from Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland also announced plans to launch international night train connections, which could include services between Brussels and Berlin and Paris in 2023.
Another direct link, planned to run between Brussels and the Swedish city Malmö by August 2022, was announced in July 2020, after the Stockholm government gave the national transport authority instructions to acquire sleeper carriages.
The Brussels Times