PRIVATE operator European Sleeper has announced a third round of raising funding by selling shares in the company after it launched its first overnight open-access service between Brussels and Berlin on May 25.
The service is now operating three days a week, departing from Brussels Midi and Amsterdam Central on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with the return service departing from Berlin on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. European Sleeper says it has now sold more than 10,000 tickets and expects to sell tickets worth a total of between €5m and €6m this year.
The company was launched in 2021 by Dutch entrepreneurs, Mr Elmer van Buuren and Mr Chris Engelsman, who are now planning to extend the Berlin service east to Prague as well as launch a new train that will connect Amsterdam and Brussels with Barcelona.
The founders selected a cooperative structure as the company has been financed by a broad community of night train enthusiasts. The previous two investment rounds raised €2.5m in equity from more than 1700 small and medium-sized private investors. The company says that shares offered during the previous funding rounds sold out in minutes, and allowed European Sleeper to launch its first service without incurring any debt.
The company is now seeking €3m as growth capital to invest in improving service quality and expanding marketing and sales activities. This includes providing details of connecting trains and developing partnerships to improve the current booking process. The company also plans to launch a new route each year, improve rolling stock and increase the frequency of its Brussels - Berlin service to daily.
European Sleeper and Eurail have announced that passengers will be able to use Interrail Global and Eurail Global passes on European Sleeper services from July 1, in combination with a reservation for a seat, couchette or bed which can be purchased via the European Sleeper website from June 12.
Eurail says pass holders can cover extensive distances, such as from Edinburgh to Berlin, by including a European Sleeper journey in their itinerary while using only one of their pass' travel days.
“European Sleeper is an ideal train for Interrailers,” Engelsman says. “We connect three European capitals, offer a wide range of comfort levels and reintroduce the possibility to enjoy the summer breeze from an open window. Being a true European railway, we consider this partnership a great way to promote the most remarkable and responsible way to travel across Europe.”