“Moonlight Express and European Sleeper join forces”, an announcement on Wednesday said. The Benelux to Berlin and Prague night train service will be operated by RegioJet and will ride under the brand name European Sleeper. So is it the end of Moonlight Express (as a brand)?
Treinreiziger.nl writes the request for a train path from Brussels via Liège and Aachen to Berlin has been retracted. The RDC Deutschland rolling stock will not be used.
The Dutch train traveller platform notes Moonlight Express and European Sleeper already knew each other when they both announced their plans on 6 April.
From the outside, their idea looked similar. A night train from Brussels to Berlin. Moonlight Express via Wallonia, European Sleeper via the Netherlands.
But their philosophy was different. Moonlight Express presented itself as a “cruise on rails” and wanted to offer comfort and decent catering. Even a party coach was on the cards. They journey must be pleasant Louis Lammertyn and Louis De Jaeger said.
In April, the entrepreneurs from Belgium were adamant three night train products on the same route is feasible. Number three being ÖBB‘s Nightjet.
But now they “joined forces” with European Sleeper. But not much of their concept remains. The brand seems gone, although it could serve for other routes. And their comfort concept is shelved.
It’s being replaced by a budget attractive Czech-Dutch product. Dare I say it? Price awareness or just being cheap sounds very Dutch indeed.
Maybe De Jaeger and Lammertyn will become shareholders of European Sleeper.
But beyond the cynicism there’s realism and pragmatism. Three on a route ís a lot. The proposed Moonlight Express rolling stock wasn’t that impressive. And European Sleeper seemed further ahead in financing the idea, with many small and less small investors.
The night train future is promising, but all those dreams must become reality if they don’t want to turn into a nightmare.
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