EUROPE: Night train start-up European Sleeper has announced details of its proposed Amsterdam – Barcelona service, which has won the backing of the European Commission.

The night train is one of 10 proposals selected for a pilot programme which aims to break down practical barriers to improving international rail services. No funding is available, but the EU will assist with co-ordination and identifying available support.

European Sleeper envisages that this will help it to overcome obstacles such as capacity allocation and sourcing rolling stock. It said financing stock is a major barrier for new entrants, and it hopes that the pilot project will help by identifying opportunities for using relevant European financing instruments.

European Sleeper is planning to launch its inaugural service on the Brussels – Amsterdam – Berlin route in May 2023, and it envisages that Amsterdam – Barcelona would become its second route from spring 2025.

The proposed service would call at Rotterdam, Antwerpen, Brussels and Lille (for connections from London) in the evening and at Avignon, Montpellier, Perpignan, Figueras and Girona in the morning.

The company said this would ‘strongly improve’ north-south rail connections, ’because one travels efficiently while asleep, and distances are reduced to just a night away’.

A ‘crucial element’ of the pilot project will be the deployment of refurbished coaches offering ‘more comfort, a modern feel, and more privacy options’.