WHILE overnight trains in some parts of Europe are being withdrawn or cut back, our correspondent in Germany reports that overnight travel there is undergoing something of a revival. This is remarkable given the onslaught of low-cost airlines and the widespread use of high speed trains on daytime journeys.

Passengers on many overnight trains serving German cities can rest assured that a repeat of the fire that killed 12 people on a Paris - München sleeping car on November 6 2002 (RG 12.02 p736) is unlikely. The 42 new sleeping cars now entering service (RG 1.04 p6) are equipped with smoke detectors and temperature sensors in each compartment, in the shower rooms and in the corridor. An alarm sounds for 30sec in the affected compartment, and if there is no reaction, the alert spreads to the whole car. Fire-resistant materials are used throughout in these Siemens-built vehicles.

DB is retrofitting all its older sleeping cars with fire detection equipment, and so far the 16 Type 175 cars, as used on the Paris - München service, have been fitted, plus 40 Talgo and 40 CityNightLine cars.