TWO European start-ups planning to launch overnight services across central Europe have announced they will join forces under the name European Sleeper.

Belgian company Moonlight Express announced plans on April 6 to launch a night train between Brussels, Liège and Berlin in April 2022. The plans were unveiled the same day Dutch start-up European Sleeper also announced its intention to introduce an international night train service from Brussels via Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Berlin and Dresden to Prague around the same time.

On June 16, the companies announced they have decided to develop a single strong night train operator, instead of two competing initiatives, with a goal to operate a night train from Brussels in 2022. The focus will be on the Brussels - Amsterdam - Berlin - Prague connection, working together with Czech private operator RegioJet. Extensions and optimisation are likely to follow soon.

“We both have the same ambition to put Belgium on the European night train map,” says Moonlight Express co-founder, Mr Louis Lammertyn. “After working side by side for a year, we decided to team up and we are all very pleased about that.”

“We have been very complementary and like-minded for quite some time and believe in a real co-operation,” says European Sleeper co-founder, Mr Chris Engelsman.

Both companies began the process to build independent night train networks from the Netherlands and Belgium last year, encountering the same same technical and procedural issues. Both firms report building a good relationship since coordinating their activities and will begin the process to further develop the formal side of their cooperation soon.

It has been jointly decided to use the name of European Sleeper for joint company’s initial night train services that will start in 2022.

The announcement comes the day after French start-up Midnight Trains announced plans to launch luxury overnight services across Europe, starting in 2024.

A detailed examination of the resurgence of overnight trains in Europe appeared in the June issue of IRJ, and is available here.