Travel startup announces new sleeper-train route from Prague to Brussels

The RegioJet and European Sleeper collaboration is intended to capitalize on the growing demand for cleaner business travel within Europe.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 07.04.2021 14:23:00 (updated on 07.04.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

An international night train from Prague to Brussels is being planned the new Dutch startup European Sleeper in cooperation with Czech-based private railway RegioJet. The first trips could take place in 2022, if everything goes according to schedule.

The Prague – Dresden – Berlin – Amsterdam – Brussels route will run three times a week during the first months of operation, and probably daily after that. Travel times and ticket costs have not yet been announced. The intention to launch the line has been submitted to regulators in the countries where the train will run.

The train from Prague will arrive in Brussels in the morning, in time for meetings of European institutions. In the reverse direction, it will leave Brussels in the evening and arrive in Prague in the morning.

The two companies hope to capitalize on the increasing demand for cleaner travel. “Our goal is more people [will] travel sustainably by sleeper train and enjoy how relaxing and efficient this way of traveling is,” the European Sleeper website states.

Train travel has significantly less impact on the environment than air travel, and there has been a movement in the past few years to use trains for short trips rather than planes, especially for business trips within Europe. In Sweden, the home of environmentalist Greta Thunberg, there is even a word for it — flygskam, meaning flight shame. A BBC report from 2020 stated that a flight emits 133 grams of CO2 emissions per person per kilometer, while a train emits as little as six grams.

“With the new night connection … RegioJet and European Sleeper join the pan-European initiative for the development of environmentally friendly night train transport,” RegioJet said in a press release, adding that the European Union has declared 2021 the Year of the Railway.

European Sleeper, which is organized as a cooperative, is also seeking investors for the project, and will start raisin raising money in May. They are hoping to raise EUR 400,000. Shares will be available to both private individuals and investors.

Two entrepreneurs who share a passion for sleeper trains founded European Sleeper: Elmer van Buuren of Train2EU and Chris Engelsman of Noord West Express.


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Van Buuren said he has been fascinated by sleeper trains since childhood, and would read timetables in bed. He dream was to become director of his own railway company.

Engelsman said he used to live by a railway used by the Noord West Express to Copenhagen, Warsaw and Moscow. Back then, 10 sleeper trains ran from the Netherlands every day. He saw the departure of the last overnight train in 2016 as a challenge.

One issue with launching the new service is a lack of sleeper carriages that will meet the expectations of modern business travelers. For decades, little investment had been made into the overnight rail sector, as the market had been moving to short-haul flights.

In addition to the Prague – Brussels route, RegioJet and European Sleeper plan to develop night train connections on other routes in Central Europe. The two companies will work with other carriers to operate the trains and sell tickets in each country.

The plan to open this new Prague to Brussels route is part of RegioJet's expansion into night and long-distance service. In addition to night trains on the Prague – Košice and Prague – Rijeka / Split routes, RegioJet will also open a night connection this year on the Prague – Przemyśl – Lviv route. RegioJet plans to invest approximately CZK 2 billion in acquiring new vehicles this year, the company said in a press release.

Recently, RegioJet won a tender of the Czech Transport Ministry to operate express trains on the Kolín – Lysá nad Labem – Ústí nad Labem line, and will start operating long-distance trains there from December this year.

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