In November all City Night Line trains from Copenhagen - including those to Amsterdam - were scrapped. From 14 December there will no longer be any direct trains to Amsterdam from Prague and Warsaw. So what's going on? And how will this affect cyclists travelling to Holland with their bike?
City Night Line at Copenhagen train station. Photo © Wikimedia
Even for experienced travellers it can be a bit of a worry: how to get to your holiday destination with your bike? For cyclists travelling within Europe, the train is a popular option. It's easier than flying. You just hop on the train with your bike. As long as you avoid the high speed trains, you don't have to take your bike apart or pack it in a box, which saves a lot of hassle and stress. But will travelling by train remain a good option for cyclists?
Despite protests, all City Night Line trains from Copenhagen - including those to Amsterdam - were scrapped in November. From 14 December there will no longer be any direct trains from Prague and Warsaw to Amsterdam. This means Holland will be losing half of its international night train connections. As a consequence, when you're journeying to Holland you'll have to change trains more often - never easy with your bike and luggage - and you might have to wait hours for your next connection.
Deutsche Bahn - the German National Railways - says that in the last ten years the number of passengers using the City Night Line has dropped by 30%. Still around 185,000 passengers used the City Night Line service to Copenhagen in 2014. So the trains were not exactly running empty. According to Arriën Kruyt, chairman of the Dutch travellers association Rover, night trains face an image problem. "Little investment has been made in them. Everyone is focusing on high speed trains. There's a lot of criticism about this in Germany. The European Committee is looking into this."
High speed trains get a lot of promotion. They are generally seen as a better alternative to night trains, but they're not for cyclists. They're more expensive which excludes low-budget cyclists and there are more restrictions for taking your bike. On the German ICE trains you're not allowed to take your bike at all.
There is a lot of protest against what is seen as a large blow to European night train services. To put pressure on Deutsche Bahn and other train operators to halt or postpone the closure of the City Night Line, petitions and email campaigns in different languages have been started. In their campaign Friends of the Earth says: "Rail is the most climate friendly way to travel in Europe. Night trains are the time saving alternative to air traffic." Holland-Cycling.com has already signed the Dutch petition. Do you want to sign too? Here are some links:
- No to the end of the Berlin - Paris night train! (in French and German only)
- Save the night train from Denmark to Europe (update: link removed as page no longer exists)
- Friends of the Earth Save the European Night Trains! email campaign (update: link removed as page no longer exists)
If you're planning to come to Holland with your bike, don't just assume that train connections you've used in the past still exist: double check them before you make any travel plans. This will save you unpleasant surprises. You may also consider the option of renting a bike at your destination. You will find somewhere to rent a bicycle wherever you are in Holland. Renting a bicycle is easy and not that expensive. It will save you the hassle of bringing your own bike along. For more information, go to: Bicycle rental.
Also see: Getting to Holland by rail.