Travelling on a City Night Line train

At a glance

  • Night train

Night trains are a good way of saving on hotel costs and maximising time at your destination. Whether you are travelling alone, as a couple or with friends and family, City Night Line (CNL) services, operated mainly by Deutsche Bahn (DB), catered to both leisure and business travellers. However, DB did not invest in new carriages, and some of the trains were showing their age. So CNL as a brand disappeared in December 2016, with many routes being taken over by Austrian Railways (ÖBB) with their rapidly expanding Nightjet network. ÖBB promise big investments in modern sleeping cars and couchettes, which will surely bring a new lease of life to European night trains.

City Night Line services ran to Basel, Berlin, Bologna, Florence, Hamburg, Milan, Munich, Rome, Venice and Zurich and were thus ideal for snoozing your way across Europe by night. On many routes you could take your bicycle or winter sports equipment on board.

You could take to the stars and travel on City Night Line trains bearing names like Perseus, Pegasus, Aurora and Sirius. Adjacent Sleeper compartments could be booked with inter-connecting doors for extra berths and space (a combination of Economy and Deluxe compartments was possible on some trains). For those travelling in Sleeper accommodation, breakfast was served in their compartment.

Seating and sleeping on City Night Line

Standard Seat

Some CNL trains conveyed older day-train carriages that had regular seated accommodation in six-seat compartments. Other routes had seats in air-conditioned open-plan carriages. If at all possible, it was good to opt for at least a couchette. The extra comfort and the promise of a good night’s rest meant that the upgrade was money well spent. Where a City Night Line train conveyed seated accommodation, those carriages had an IC train number (rather than a CNL prefix).

Food and drink on City Night Line

Train attendant

Sad but true: restaurant cars were phased out on City Night Line trains before the demise of the entire brand. So you had to go prepared and have supper before boarding the train – or take a hamper and bottle of wine on board. The train attendant in sleeping cars would usually sell snacks and drinks (including beer). Travellers in seats and couchettes could also purchase refreshments from sleeping car staff (including breakfast).

Child and youth passengers

The definition of "Child" and "Youth" varies by country and operator. This is why we ask for the age of young passengers.

Sometimes children below a certain age can travel without a seat for free. If you want to guarantee a seat for child passengers, enter '6' as the age of the child.

Read more about child and youth passenger ages. See also youth discounts and railcards.

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