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Night trains - do they have baggage cars?

Night trains - do they have baggage cars?

Dec 16th, 2000, 10:12 AM
  #1  
debbie
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Night trains - do they have baggage cars?

We will be taking a night train from Venice to Paris via Milan and Basel, Switzerland. We leave at 3pm and the first part of the trip will be in 2nd class. We don't get the sleeper until we arrive in Basel at 12M. Is there a baggage car? I have read here that some people have luggage on overhead racks. The sleeper is a 4 person couchette in 1st class. Is this compartment large enough to accomodate 4 pieces of luggage? Just want to know what to expect since this is our first time for train travel. Thanks!
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 10:40 AM
  #2  
scigirl
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Nope - no baggage cars. There are overhead racks to hold luggage. In the couchette compartments there is some floor space below the bottom bunk, and a little space at the end of the top bunk. Generally, if you are traveling light (e.g. 1 piece of luggage each) you will have no problem.
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 11:11 AM
  #3  
debbie
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Thanks, scigirl. Guess we better board early since space is at a premium.
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 11:33 AM
  #4  
Paulo
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Excuse me Debbie ... what about the much more convenient direct Euronight train EN 222, leaving Venice at 7:45pm and arriving at 8:25am? Do you have to arrive in Paris earlier or is this train already entirely booked out?

Paulo
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 11:50 AM
  #5  
debbie
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Paulo,

That was the train we originally wanted, but waited too long to book it. I made the mistake of thinking I could wait until I got to Italy to purchase all the train tickets at once. Then I sort of got nervous since we needed that night train on December 30, so I called my travel agent. ALL night trains were totally full. We tried to get direct trains from Milan and Florence even and they were full. Even though it is a terrible schedule we are happy to have it since we didn't have hotel reservations for that night and they too were full. I'm sure if it wasn't so close to New Years we wouldn't have had a problem. Next time I will book ahead of time. Lesson learned.
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 12:43 PM
  #6  
Ben Haines
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I assume you're booked so shall reply as you ask. But if you're not yet committed please do take the Rialto, EN 222, as Paulo says. The present plan is

Venice 1500 Milan 1755. No catering
Milan 1825 Basel 0011. No catering
Basel 0050 Paris Est 0645. First class couchette.

I can't say whether there are baggage cars on the first two trains, but on the last there was such a car a year ago, unacknowleged in the French Rail timetable. People on seats in day trains may be in saloon coaches or in a compartment. In both there are racks above their heads, and in saloon coaches racks at the ends of the coach. Luggage theft on your lines is not normal nor a problem: when I've dumped my bag I ignore it. On the night train, since the baggage car is unacknowleged it has no guardian, and things eft there are open to theft. In fact, nobody stole my bike. But if you've one bag each you can pack them into your first class couchette car. If you've a total of four you'll manage, but may need to hand a couple to the conductor for safe conduct in his bedding store (and to tip him five dollars or his kindness).

Perhaps you have this unexpected route to let you see the Alps. In winter you'll see none with your timings, in summer a certain amount. But whether enough to justify the very short night asleep I don't know. And even on this route, a type T2 two-berth second class sleeper from Basel to Paris is little more per berth than a 4-berth couchette, and a deal more comfortable and restful.

So what to do (if you're free to do anything) ? If it's Alps you want, I'd add a few miles to get a longer night in bed. Venice Santa Lucia 1600, restaurant car train, Milan Central 1855 to 1915, Cisalpino high tech train with restaurant car, Zurich 2253 You'd ask the Swiss conductor to tell you from which platform in Zurich your sleeper is going to leave. Zurich 2300, beds in a 2-berth sleeper, Paris Est 0645.

Or certainly in winter and probably in summer a 2 berth Excelsior compartment (not a normal compartment) on the Rialto night express through from Venice at 1945 to Paris Gare de Lyon at 0825 or 0920. Excelsior coach travellers have use of the Club Eurostar lounge in Venice S L station. Excelsior coaches have air conditioning and a reception area with corridor TV, and in compartments they have seats, a private bathroom with shower, toilet, washbasin, drinking water, a welcome drink, and a light breakfast. They easily have room for four bags. Like all Venice, the restaurant car is a touch expensive, so you may want to take a packed supper as you board. With so long a night, you might even ask the conductor to waken you about 0100 or 0200 to let you open your blind and curtain and admire the French Alps.

If the Rialto is full, you can still have a longer night, and an Excelsior compartment, if you change once, in Milan. Venice Santa Lucia 1800, no catering, Milan Central change and sup 2055 to 2155, Stendhal Express, Paris Gare de Lyon 0838.

Whichever route you use, if you'd like it I can copy you a note I keep on disc on enjoying couchettes and sleepers in Europe. And in general, please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Ben Haines, London
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 01:05 PM
  #7  
Paulo
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What a drag!

How did your travel agent ticketed the trip? Through Brig? You know that in Basel you have to change train stations, don't you?

I don't think you're going to make it if he put you in the direct Milan-Basel train. If the Milan's train is on time you'd have only 18 minutes to walk to the French side with all your luggage.

Paulo

PS. some train data:

train CS 36 Milano 6:10pm 8:00pm Brig train D 498 Brig 8:29pm 11:38pm Basel SBB

train IC 254 Milano 6:25pm 0:11am Basel SBB

train IR 468 Basel Sncf 0:29am 6:45am Paris
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 01:23 PM
  #8  
Paulo
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Ben, things look a bit confused ...

The French Rail internet site has the 468 leaving Basel SBB at 0:50am (as you have it!)

The Swiss Rail site (as the German Rail one) has the 468 leaving Basel Sncf at 0:28am

Can you make anything out of this? Would this train start out at the French station, go to the Swiss station and then back to France?

Paulo
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 02:48 PM
  #9  
debbie
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Thanks Ben and Paulo,

The tickets were booked through Raileurope and cost about $200 more than if I had booked last month. Supply and demand. According to our tickets, we get into Basel at 00:11 and leave at 00:50. I hope that's enough time. I started planning this trip in March, had all reservations made except the trains. Lots of people said to wait until we get to Europe and we'll save money. Well, we're paying for it now. But hey, it's an adventure. I'm not going to let it ruin our trip. Believe me, it is not the itinerary I would have chosen! We're off on Monday and the tickets are paid for so it's too late to worry about it now. Go with the flow!
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 03:42 PM
  #10  
Paulo
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I'm sure you'll have fun on those trains. Something really out of the ordinary, quite adventurous. If I were on your shoes it would remind me my student days, travelling all over Europe withy a pass and sleeping in trains to save in hotels. Very good nights, those.

On return, tell us how everything was wonderful.

Paulo
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 07:01 PM
  #11  
Ben Haines
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Fodors ?

Paulo: Odd indeed. I think these stations are reversed in the websites. The Thomas Cook European Timetable says that the train reaches Basel SBB at 0005 from Chur, drops most coaches, pulls over to Basel SNCF, attaches some coaches including the Basel to Paris couchettes, and leaves for Paris.

For Debbie: The walk with your luggage from the Swiss to the Frebch side of Basle station is two hundred yards, starting with steps down, but then on the level. Done as I did it, with just my bicycle, it was romantic -- vast empty customs hall with good carpentry, long benches and not a soul there, a kind of picture of the decline of European nationalism. But for you with our bags a bit much. These days there is no frontier control at all between the Swiss and the French parts of the statioin. So you might like to ask the Swiss train conductor where on the Swiss side the train IR 468 arrives from Chur at 0005. It may even arrive beside the platform where your train from Milan arrives. Then you walk within the Swiss side only, and hop into the reclining chair second class coach that is running from Chur to Paris. After ten minutes or so it will pull along the line a little way, and settle to a platform in the French side. Now you get out, and walk along the platform to your couchette coach.

Ben Haines

 
Dec 17th, 2000, 05:54 AM
  #12  
Paulo
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Thanks, Ben. Now that you've informed that the sleeper to Paris comes from Chur, the online schedules appear quite inconsistent.

Both the Swiss and German Rail sites list the whole journey for train IR 468. Just considering a few relevant stations, the read is the following:

a) German site
Chur...... ----- 21:16
Zürich HB. 22:50 23:00
Brugg AG.. 23:24 23:25
Basel SBB. 00:05 -----
Basel SNFC ----- 00:28
St-Louis.. 00:57 00:58
Belfort... 01:58 02:16
Vesoul.... 03:03 03:05
Chaumont.. 04:18 04:20
Troyes.... 05:08 05:11
Paris..... 06:45

b) Swiss site
Chur...... ----- 21:16
Zürich HB. 22:50 23:00
Brugg AG.. 23:24 23:25
Basel SBB. 00:05 -----
Basel SNFC ----- 00:28
St-Louis.. 00:35 00:36
Belfort... 01:42 01:54
Vesoul.... 02:39 02:41
Chaumont.. 04:02 04:04
Troyes.... 05:01 05:04
Paris..... 06:45

As one can see, both schedules are the same up to the departure from the French side in Basel. From there on, the schedules depart from each other considerably.

The French site unfortunately doesn't appear to have a compact schedule for each individual train. One may, though, build one based on travel info between pair of cities on the route. This would read:

c) French site
Chur...... ----- 21:16
Zürich HB. 22:50 23:00
Brugg AG.. 23:24 23:25
Basel SBB. 00:05 00:50
St-Louis.. 00:57 00:58
Belfort... 01:58 02:16
Vesoul.... 03:03 03:05
Chaumont.. 04:18 04:20
Troyes.... 05:08 05:11
Paris..... 06:45

The French site doesn't differentiate the Swiss and French sides in Basel. It gives exactly the same schedule as the German site except for the Basel's departure time (0:50 instead of 0:28).

Paulo
 
Dec 17th, 2000, 08:06 AM
  #13  
debbie
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Paulo & Ben,

So, can I feel safe that my ticket is correct and we will not be leaving Basel until 00:50? That should give us enough time to walk 200 yards. I'm stressing a little about missing the connection. Thanks for your information.
 
Dec 17th, 2000, 10:43 AM
  #14  
Paulo
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I'm 99.9% positive that the train in fact departs at 00:50. First, because the French Rail site says so (from Basel on it'll be in French territory, and they should know better). Second, because T. Cook train guide also says so (and train schedules is their business . Finally, to make sure, I looked Saint Louis up in the map. I learned it's just across the border, not more than 3-4km from Basel. Considering that the train should get there at 0:57, this is consistent with a 0:50 departure, and not with a 0:28 one.

Anyway, after you cross the Italian border in Chiasso, the conductor should be a Swiss which should know about the scheme in Basel: if you have to walk or if your sleeper train is still in the Swiss side when the train from Milan arrives (just as suggested by Ben).

Paulo
 
Dec 17th, 2000, 11:49 AM
  #15  
debbie
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I'm feeling a little better now. I'm finishing up the packing and hope to get a good nights sleep tonight. Now if we can just get out of Chicago which has a forcast for snow tomorrow. The weather's fine in Reno, so Chicago will be our only bad-weather city. Weather looks great in Rome! Arrivaderci!
 
Dec 17th, 2000, 01:27 PM
  #16  
Mathias
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Hi folks
I guess it's too late, but just wanted to inform you that the night train from Basel to Paris leaves at 0050, NOT 0028. Schedule changed in early december. Arriving from Milano, it's (normally) no problem to reach this train. The official passage time to get from the Swiss part of the station to the French part ist 15min. (I'm working at Swiss railway staion in Basel)
Night trains never have baggage cars, but it's no problem to keep the luggage in the compartment.
Mathias
 
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