Managing to get from Antwerp to Zug despite a corona ghost train


Okay. Where to start? The borders reopened on 15 June and I have my birthday on the 21st. Since 2010 I go abroad for my birthday. 2012 was the exception because I just started at at NMBS / SNCB.

2020 was going to be a new exception due to coronavirus COVID-19. But borders reopened just in time. So I decided to come and see my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew and my niece in Zug in Switzerland.

There are four main and logical itineraries between Antwerp and Zug by train.

Last time I took route 3. I noticed the existence of EuroCity EC 9, a train headed by an electric locomotive hauling a number of different coaches. Including a panoramic car. I said I would book that one next time, so that’s what I did.

Early morning

On the 6th of June I booked a seat on ICE 13 and a seat in the panoramic coach of EC 9.



Danny drilled me well. Although ICE 13 only leaves Bussels-North at 8.32 AM, I took an early train to Brussels and I arrived there at 7.30 AM. During that first leg of the journey I found out ICE 13 did not exist. I made a call to a colleague to double check. It did not exist. And indeed, SNCB Europe writes it doesn’t operate at this point in the corona crisis.


So why could I book a seat on this phantom train, Deutsche Bahn? Why didn’t I get an email saying something was wrong?

I didn’t have time to waist. The app suggested a train at 8.06 AM to Welkenraedt, the omnibus to Aachen, a train to Cologne. But I would miss my EC 9.

Fast forward

Instead I took the 7.39 AM E406 train to Welkenraedt, a taxi to Aachen and an Abellio train to Cologne. In time for my EC 9. I had seen the Swiss coaches parked just before Köln Haubtbahnhof. I was happy. I was ready.


But then came German mostly white coaches. No panoramic coach. The Swiss train got technical issues. Instead we got these older German ones. Without catering. Not fun for a six-hour train ride.

As top of the bill: the EC 9 was shortened to Basel. So I took a Swiss, domestic train to Zürich and the to Zug.

Murphy’s law.

Things can go wrong

Things can go wrong. The replacement train? Yes it can happen. It sucks but what can you do? Train cancelations happen.

But my ICE 13 wasn’t cancelled. It didn’t exist. I was sold a ticket for a non-existant train. Not okay.

Luckily I was early in Brussels. But I should have checked he night before. Or when waking up. I could have taken an earlier ICE.

I could only stay calm and act quickly. I was, in the end, 3 minutes earlier in Zug.


So yes I did get a taste of Abellio Siemens Desiro Double Deck. I did sample the comfortable seats of the TEE/IC coaches. I did enjoy the Swiss EW coaches and the SBB IC2000.

I will keep trying to get that panoramic couch. I will succeed one day!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Laura says:

    First of all, a happy birthday! 🙂
    I’m happy for you the borders opened just in time for your birthday trip. It’s so weird you somehow got a ticket for a non-existent train, did you at least get a refund?!
    Train travel is always full of surprises, isn’t it… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      Thank you!

      Yes that was annoying.

      The claim procedure is – purposely – complicated. I have to print sth out and send it by mail to DB.


      1. Laura says:

        That’s ridiculous! Good luck with that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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