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Midnight Trains - Sleepers radiating from Paris, indicates UK route

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LLivery

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Just seen a tweet from Seat 61, of a new proposal for "a hotel on rails", with Paris as the hub for a network of sleeper trains across Western Europe. One of the routes are Paris to Edinburgh (no London, although I guess that's a strange oversight on the map)...

Founded by French entrepreneurs Adrien Aumont & Roman Payet, they also have advisors from Accor, SNCF and Thalys. Of course, any route to the UK is very difficult and expensive, and any route to the UK and off HS1 is even more difficult and expensive, but it's interesting that its publically an aspiration, and as Seat 61 notes, the advisors are probably aware of the complications of UK links.

A few days ago, the Department for International Trade was talking of more rail collaboration with our continental neighbours and the G7 was at the weekend. I do wonder if some discussion has been made here...

Here's the Midnight Trains website
 
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StephenHunter

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No point doing London as the journey times are too short now. You also don't actually need to use HS1 once you are across the Channel.
 

LLivery

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No point doing London as the journey times are too short now. You also don't actually need to use HS1 once you are across the Channel.

Fair point if it's only heading to Paris. Using the South Eastern Main Line, then Redhill-Tonbridge, Brighton Main, West London Line and the WCML would be very very interesting.
 

StephenHunter

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You would need UK loading gauge, Channel Tunnel compliant rolling stock in any event. Are CAF's Mark 5s compliant?
 

CW2

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Looking at the people they have recruited so far, they are top heavy with style and design, and totally lacking in any knowledge of railway operations and hardware.
Little inconvenient facts like those outlined by @StephenHunter above have probably not featured in their thoughts thus far. It's all about the vision.
 

Bald Rick

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No chance!

The entire passenger market from the whole of Scotland to the whole of France+Belgium is roughly 20% of the Edinburgh - London market (which, as we know, sustains half a sleeper train a night, very heavily subsidised).
 

LLivery

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You would need UK loading gauge, Channel Tunnel compliant rolling stock in any event. Are CAF's Mark 5s compliant?

I'd be very surprised if they where

Looking at the people they have recruited so far, they are top heavy with style and design, and totally lacking in any knowledge of railway operations and hardware.
Little inconvenient facts like those outlined by @StephenHunter above have probably not featured in their thoughts thus far. It's all about the vision.

It is certainly style over substance at the moment. Surely the SNCF and Thalys advisors must know this though?

No chance!

The entire passenger market from the whole of Scotland to the whole of France+Belgium is roughly 20% of the Edinburgh - London market (which, as we know, sustains half a sleeper train a night, very heavily subsidised).

It also appears to be aimed at a high end market, which makes it even more unlikely
 

edwin_m

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A set of services radiating from Paris would be potentially useful as people could connect on Eurostar for early evening departures from London and mid-morning arrivals there, and this wouldn't need any extra train mileage. But through sleeper services to the UK really don't look viable for the reasons noted.
 

och aye

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A bit light in details, but is this an actual viable proposition or just a pie in the sky idea that sounded like a good idea at the time after a few jars in the pub?


Edinburgh holidaymakers could soon be able to travel to Europe in style as part of a new luxury ‘hotel on wheels’ rail link connecting the Capital and Paris.


Midnight Trains plans to 'reinvent the sleeper train' when it starts overnight services from Waverley to the world-famous Gare du Nord and onward to a host of popular destinations across the continent in 2024, with a fully operational network in place by 2030.


The low-carbon impact travel network is designed to replace flights to and from European cities including Barcelona, Berlin and Rome and will offer travellers the chance to relax on their way to a city in break in comfortable, designer accommodation featuring private rooms with on-demand entertainment and an opulent in-carriage cocktail and wine bar.


According to the company, travellers will be able to enjoy a "more comfortable, seamless and sustainable alternative" to air travel when the rail network starts in three years.

I found another article (in French) where it states that Xavier Niel, the French telecoms billionaire is involved in financing it (although it doesn't state how much investment he is putting in):


The website looks professional enough, which is always a good start:


One operational question I have is; how would the Edinburgh trains connect with HS1 to get to the Channel Tunnel?
 

mcmad

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Do they even know there is a different loading gauge in the uk?
 
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XAM2175

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I agree it has a fair whiff of crayon about it :lol:
 
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Bald Rick

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Perhaps they have anticipated an independent Scotland, that subsequently joins Schengen, and a sealed train transiting England to avoid any border / customs issues. Then it could stop at Reston :lol:
 

och aye

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Perhaps they have anticipated an independent Scotland, that subsequently joins Schengen, and a sealed train transiting England to avoid any border / customs issues. Then it could stop at Reston :lol:
And some folk on this forum said that Reston would be of no use as a station :lol:
 

zwk500

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Do they say how they plan to get between the UK and France overnight when HS1, the Tunnel and LGV Nord close overnight for engineering access?
 

StephenHunter

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Don't use those routes. The Night Ferry didn't...

With the Thameslink central core and that new connection from St Pancras to the ECML, it's doable with the right stock.
 

zwk500

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Don't use those routes. The Night Ferry didn't...

With the Thameslink central core and that new connection from St Pancras to the ECML, it's doable with the right stock.
Theoretically possible and economically/financially viable are two very different things.
 

Bald Rick

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Don't use those routes. The Night Ferry didn't...

With the Thameslink central core and that new connection from St Pancras to the ECML, it's doable with the right stock.

The ‘right stock’ for the TL core would be even more specialised due to the tight gauging down there. In a fantasy world where this sleeper was to run it would be up the North London Incline and via Hampstead, Willesden, and Brixton, as indeed it was planned to 25 years ago. It would also take a LONG time, around 12 hours.
 

RobShipway

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I cannot see these trains running from Edingburgh until after HS2 phase2 is completed in the 2030's. So stating that people would be able to travel from 2024 is very head in the clouds.

Then you have got he issues of loading gauge etc.. in the UK as others have mentioned. For the UK, the trains would need to be the same spec as the HS2 to Classic fleet. Then you have got the issue as to how do you get the train from HS2 to HS1 as there is not connections between the two! The only other way would be to bring the trains down the East Coast mainline and from there connect into the junction where you can connect to HS1, North of St Pancras.
But I doubt that a foreign operator would be allowed to a) Come down the East Cost mainline or HS2 whichever route is used without stopping at other major cities within the UK and b) the time the trains would be leaving Edingburgh, it would be getting close to the maintenance times of certainly HS1, if not HS2 if used and possibly any overnight maintenance on the East Coast line by the time it has reached anywhere near London.
 

zwk500

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12 hours is a perfectly reasonable length for a sleeper in Europe. Some go longer.
Given that the business plan for this train appears to be getting people well and truly hammered in the bar car, a few extra hours in bed in the morning may well be beneficial!
 

JonathanH

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It seems somewhat disappointing that they aren't offering the build a rail connection to Dublin whilst they are at it.
 

RobShipway

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I wonder if Via Rail Canada has sold the shells of the Nightstar stock that they dumped in a field near Thunder Bay or whether they have been scrapped by now?
 

Aictos

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A more feasible idea would be to use Paris or Brussels as a hub for overnight sleepers to much of Europe with destinations such as Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Warsaw etc..

As it is, it seems to be priced out of the reach of the common man and is only open to those who have don't have a issue with a disposable income, if it must succeed then prices should be reduced to increase it affordability to allow the common man to use it.

Especially if there is a push to reduce CO2 emissions then ticket prices must be reduced to allow this.
 

Bald Rick

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12 hours is a perfectly reasonable length for a sleeper in Europe. Some go longer.

For services that have intermediate stops, which can help fill the seats on the train, yes. (as almost all european sleepers have lots of seats / couchettes too).

But not non stop.
 

LLivery

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The Edinburgh Live article does state:
Existing refurbished carriages are to be leased to form the main infrastructure of the service, while the firm is also in discussions over the purchase of rolling stock.

It'd be very strange to have discussions over leasing and purchasing stock if they had no idea what complications they'd face in the UK and even more strange to go public with it. But any strange thing can happen in the 2020s...

Perhaps they have anticipated an independent Scotland, that subsequently joins Schengen, and a sealed train transiting England to avoid any border / customs issues. Then it could stop at Reston :lol:

That did cross my mind too :lol:

A set of services radiating from Paris would be potentially useful as people could connect on Eurostar for early evening departures from London and mid-morning arrivals there, and this wouldn't need any extra train mileage. But through sleeper services to the UK really don't look viable for the reasons noted.

And with Brussels also becoming a bit of a sleeper hub, it does certainly make sleepers more attractive for us.
 

Bald Rick

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It'd be very strange to have discussions over leasing and purchasing stock if they had no idea what complications they'd face in the UK and even more strange to go public with it. But any strange thing can happen in the 2020s...

Doesn’t surprise me at all.

I wonder how they will ’depropose’ the Edinburgh service:

1) blaming the high costs of track access through the tunnel / on NR routes
2) blaming U.K. government insistence on border / customs control
3) blaming the high cost of specialist equipment / haulage neded for the tunnel / NR routes
4) further studies reveal insufficient demand
5) say nothing

One thing is for certain, they won’t blame themselves for not identifying 1-4 before proposing it.
 
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