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ON THE RAILS

I just read this headline and it made me smile.

EUROPE'S NIGHT TRAINS

MAKING A COMEBACK

And this: ‘From the Orient Express to the Trans-Europe Express, few methods of travel have offered as much romance as a European night train’.

It goes on to tell us: ‘Unfortunately these overnight train routes have long been in decline,' this from the New York Times, ‘particularly in Western Europe, due to the growing popularity of budget airlines’.

Several years ago, in 2016 to be exact, Germany’s Deutsche Bahn cancelled its night train routes and selling off its sleeping wagons. A year later France dumped it's famous Paris-to -Nice sleeping train service. What the hell!

According to the New York Times’, fans of the overnight rail travel over there have been fighting to save the service. It lists the cross-border Back on Track group as lobbying both the operators and governments.

What do you know, it might be having some effect. Austria’s OBB, for instance, bought up Deutsche Bahn’s unwanted sleeping cars and has since reported a surge in overnight passengers.

It’s different in the Unites States and Canada where with such long distances – and travel by train – you’ll end up spending days rattling along the rails. Mind, the unique clickety-clack is long gone, and probably not sorely missed by long distance train riders.

I bumped into several people lately who tell me they can’t travel by air. Even the thought of it makes them weak in the knees. They insist on traveling by train on long trips. Or by car. They want to keep their feet on the ground, or as close to it as possible.

The rest of us might find white knuckle moments while flying or during takeoff, but at the very least it hasn’t stopped us from flying. If I can nab a window seat the pleasure comes by watching out as we gather speed on takeoff.

Then again, it’s difficult not to enjoy traveling by train. The longer the trip the better. Where you have hours to catch up on reading, something you haven’t managed to work into your daily routine. That feeling of falling to sleep as the train shakes you gently...

Author’s comment: I experienced the midnight train when working in Montréal and spending the odd weekend with family near Toronto. I’d drink slow and easy the best martini in Montréal’s cavernous Central Station’s friendly bistro before climbing aboard.

Sleep between clean sheets in a small room, with a window. Arrive eight hours later. Refreshed. Hassle free. Wonderful to hear travelling by night train is making a comeback.

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