Odd Q – Sleepers… anyone use???

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  • Odd Q – Sleepers… anyone use???
  • rkk01
    Member

    Was at the local station recently, Stupid O’Clock in the morning, early train for a work meeting…

    On one of the other platforms was a sleeper train going the other way

    – firstly, I didn’t realise these things still existed;
    – secondly, are they any good? Cheaper than travelling day before + overnight? Enough sleep to be functioning in a next day meeting???

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Subscriber

    I really like the idea (especially when I’ve had to travel to London the night before a meeting) but I thought there was only a service to Scotland/Cornwall?

    There was a thing on the Guardian website today saying that they’re having a resurgence in Europe, which I now can’t find.

    alpin
    Member

    Have used the sleeper train going south over the alps down to southern Italy. Was good fun. Partied with a group of American students, smoked drugs in the toilet…. Then the carabiniere got on and spoiled all the fun and arrested a few of the septics. I retreated to my cabin and pretended to be asleep.

    Forgot my old Hex helmet on that train and had to buy a replacement the next day.

    tjagain
    Member

    I have used them edinburgh / london. worked for me. Get on the train late evening in Edinburgh, get off early morning in London. I slept well. Mrs TJ did not.

    Also used one ( but didn’t get a sleeper compartment) Edinburgh / inverness. A bit pointless. We ended up pitching the tent outside the pub at garve midmorning to catch up on sleep

    Premier Icon burko73
    Subscriber

    Someone I know uses the Penzance to London sleeper. Seems to work.

    CraigW
    Member

    I’ve done Inverness to London a few times. The cabins are expensive, especially if on your own. Cheaper option is just to book a seat. It think it’s quite comfortable, can get a bit of sleep anyway.
    Have booked a trip in April, to connect with Eurostar. So will see if the new improved train is any good.

    Premier Icon nparker
    Subscriber

    We took the motorail sleeper from Dusseldorf to Innsbruck in the summer for family hols, put the car on with 4 bikes on the back. Kids loved it – can’t say we got a huge amount of sleep as we didn’t go for the premium cabin. Saves about 11 hours of driving and better for the environment. The latter is one of the main reasons for the resurgence in Europe.

    shermer75
    Member

    Been on a couple, Inverness to London and the Orient Express, and got very little sleep both times

    Premier Icon pondo
    Subscriber

    Went Paris-Avignon years ago and got about ten minutes kip.

    scotroutes
    Member

    Very much depends on the individual some folk sleep very well, others don’t. Chris Boardman often gets the sleeper to Aviemore and cycles round to his holiday home.

    alpin
    Member

    Saves about 11 hours of driving

    How slow do you drive? Munich to London is 11 hours and that is me driving, not Sonne driving god….

    Premier Icon timbog160
    Subscriber

    I’ve always wanted to but never got round to it. I’m in 2 minds about it, since the Scots ones are massively subsidised by the taxpayer, yet seem to be frequented by people who don’t need subsidising. The trains have recently been replaced, and there have been a lot of teething problems, meaning your restful nights sleep could end up on a bus!

    Currently being run by Serco, and like a lot of railway companies, they are in severe financial difficulty.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    I went London to Aberdeen in one.   Whilst not drinking alchohol in the bar, I was told the best thing I could do was stay up and get pissed.

    I didn’t  and had an awful nights sleep.

    Premier Icon pyranha
    Subscriber

    I’ve used the Caledonian a few times, to/from Perth, Dundee and Edinburgh. There used to be some cracking ‘Bargain Berths’ fares (£11 each for me and my son) in the mid 2000s. I’ve also used couchettes between Ostend and Basel, Dover to somewhere near Zermatt, and Paris to St Gervais (for Chamonix), in the ’80s and ’90s.

    We nearly used the one between Rome and Palermo a couple of years ago (the last train in Europe to run onto a ferry), but we decided to train to Naples and take the overnight ferry from there instead.

    They can be a good option if the fares are right since they include a night’s accommodation, but unless you are used to them, a good night’s sleep isn’t guaranteed, and the recent troubles on the Caledonian are a little off putting – although the fact that most berths are now en suite is a plus.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    If I have to go to London, I take the sleeper.
    Beats flying or driving.

    malgrey
    Member

    I used the Caledonian sleeper as part of a journey from Hove to Inverie (Knoydart) with a folding canoe. Excluding the Hove-London section, cost me about £150 three years ago. Mate travelled in the seats section, paid about 60. So I spent about £90 on 2 nights bed. On the way up, I slept poorly on and off, but woke to make sure I could watch the scenery from Loch Lomond onwards. On the way back, after a heavy weekend camping, in the Old Forge, and even a bit of canoeing, I slept like a log and was woken by knocking on the door just before Euston. (Write up here; https://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/have-canoe-will-travel-a-long-weekend-in-knoydart-t52014.html)
    The main downfall was leaving my paddles in the guards van before the train split..

    This was the old rolling stock, which was fairly well worn out, but it was OK. As a way to travel, it was strangely exciting. I’ve also travelled on sleepers in Norway, France (when young) and Turkey. The latter was definitely a bit rough!!! Still enjoyed it though.

    They’re possibly the most civilised form of transport. Sadly, many have disappeared in the face of low cost airlines. Scotland isn’t really far enough – a lot of that trip is spent travelling very slowly or sitting in sidings fro what I remember.

    We used to do the charter ski train to the Alps. Eurostar to Paris on Friday evening, bistro dinner near Gare de Nore, board sleeper, wake in Bourg, on the slopes by 10am on the Saturday. Coming back could ski most of Saturday before leaving the resort. Nearly 8 days skiing instead of 6

    Nairobi to Mombassa was fantastic, spotting wildlife from the carriage
    A few overnights in Mexico between Mexico City and the Cuidad Juarez (though I seem to remember they were just seated, and in a January freezing cold as they crossed the desert. (We sat fully clothed in our sleeping bags with our bags under our feet to insulate them from the bare metal floor)
    Ankara to Istanbul
    Luxor to Cairo
    Varanasi to Delhi (3rd class Indian sleepers are a very real experience)

    If you’ve limited time on a trip they save you a day of travelling, and they save the cost of a night of accommodation (I’ve always done the cheapest class). You won’t get the best night of sleep but a dose of Valium helps.

    Overnight coaches are usually cheaper but are never going to be An experience in the same way (though the 36 hour “sleeper bus” from Vientiane in Laos to Phnom Phen in Cambodia sounds like it would be memorable for all the wrong reasons – apparently undersized double bunks that you share with a stranger if travelling alone and roads so rough there’s little chance of sleep).

    On the Caledonian, Kirsty Wark used to use it when she was on newsnight. Present the show, taxi to Paddington, home in time to get her kids up and see them off to school.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    I used the Caledonian Sleeper but as a non-sleeper, Fort William to Edinburgh. It was fantastic tbh, most civilised train journey I’ve ever done. Seats were comfier than a normal train, everything was really quiet and laid back

    ransos
    Member

    We used to do the charter ski train to the Alps. Eurostar to Paris on Friday evening, bistro dinner near Gare de Nore, board sleeper, wake in Bourg, on the slopes by 10am on the Saturday. Coming back could ski most of Saturday before leaving the resort. Nearly 8 days skiing instead of 6

    We did that, as you say it gains you extra time on the slopes. We went to Les Arcs, which goes directly from Bourg on a funicular. Sadly, the overnight service has been cancelled. There are I think new sleeper services to Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. Seat61.com has the details.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    I don’t sleep well in seats, I remember a coach trip to Aosta from Lincolnshire when I was in my early twenties, I barely got any sleep and remember the sun coming up over the flat, endless French countryside and thinking we can’t be that far away, but no there was hours and hours to go…

    Caledonian sleeper to aviemore, with a room and ticket to Euston is £170 one way. Leave the house at 6pm, get there at 8am.

    Fuel for the same trip is £60, 11hrs driving roughly.

    I’ve ridden from Fribourg in Switzerland to Kent on a motorbike in a day, not really any issue, 8hrs or so. 11hrs in a car with air con, heated leather, adaptive cruise control, active lane guidance, a decent stereo… Nah I’ll drive.

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Subscriber

    The one and only sleeper I’ve been on was in 1982 and the train went from Moscow to Leningrad. Great samovar teas in each coach and the unique sight of a cleaner mopping some carpet. Great night sleep in a four berth shared with a fellow pupil & two Burley Russian chaps. Child safe guarding didn’t exist then! Great experience to travel across Russia in February when the max temp was -17°c

    ransos
    Member

    I’ve ridden from Fribourg in Switzerland to Kent on a motorbike in a day, not really any issue, 8hrs or so. 11hrs in a car with air con, heated leather, adaptive cruise control, active lane guidance, a decent stereo… Nah I’ll drive.

    Each to their own, but I’d rather be sat reading a book or watching a film. Being sat on the motorway for hours and hours is tedious…

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    It really depends on why your going to your destination, if its an MTB trip (for me, the main reason I’d go to Scotland) the benefits of having a car while there, plus 2 or more bikes, outweigh the benefit of travelling overnight and not having to drive.

    20 years ago when cars were much more work to drive long distances then I can see them being used more. Now, with all the comforts and assistance of a modern car, means they eat up the miles, I enjoy a nice road trip too if I’m honest 😁

    In fact, if I was driving to Aviemore from Kent I’d leave around 6pm, drive until midnight/1am, which would see me not much south of Glasgow. Then find somewhere to park and get a few hours kip, realistically until about 6am, and drive the last 3 hours in the morning.

    scotroutes
    Member

    I’m in 2 minds about it, since the Scots ones are massively subsidised by the taxpayer

    You mean the London ones? 😉

    yiman
    Member

    I did the Snowtrain a couple of times a few years back while it was still going. Couple of beers in the disco carriage, slept very well.

    I’d love to do the London to Fort William one, even though I’d have to get the train from Nottingham to catch it.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    love them and they do seem to be making a come back

    Premier Icon allyharp
    Subscriber

    I’ve used the Caledonian a number of times and I’m a big fan. But it’s much more expensive under Serco that when it was First so I’ve only used it a handful of times since they took over. And that’s a shame as I think sleeper trains in general are great answer to encouraging rail transport over flights.

    I can sleep “fine” in the bunks – not as well as a hotel, but well enough – though I don’t fancy the seats.

    Premier Icon Scapegoat
    Subscriber

    Ah, memories. Once took a sleeper from Paris to Pisa, as I was studying there for a year. We took the boat train from Victoria the night before, but had taken the best part of a day to get to Paris as the train broke down between Calais and Paris for something like five hours, with everything frozen as Europe suffered a cold snap. (this was January 1985) The train left Paris that night and we had sleepers booked. Strange experience, waking up somewhere in the Alps then a truly spectacular ride to Genoa where we changed trains. That year I travelled around a hell of a lot by train, and often opted for overnight journeys. The standard carriages had seats that slid down and met in the middle, and as long as all the other passengers in your compartment agreed, simply made a massive communal bed. Fond memories.

    scruff9252
    Member

    I did an across Poland sleeper train a few years ago – it was marvellous!

    An early dinner in Krakow then pick up bottle of wine on way to station. Get into private cabin, open wine, watch a dvd and sleep. Wake up in Gdansk a few hours later.

    Apart from being kicked off train at 6.30am, it was no different to staying in a budget hotel comfort wise. It is indeed a brilliant way to travel

    poly
    Member

    – secondly, are they any good? Cheaper than travelling day before + overnight? Enough sleep to be functioning in a next day meeting???

    I’ve used them 3 times (all before the recent upgrade). Essentially when I need to be in London earlier in the morning than a flight can get me there, but when I couldn’t go down the night before. I can leave home (near Edinburgh) about 10.30pm (or Falkirk about midnight) and wake up in Euston at 7.30am. I don’t think many people are doing it to save money. Its not a bargain price, especially if you don’t want to share with some random.

    First time was OK, but didn’t get much sleep.
    Second time was sharing a room with a random, who was a huge snorer and I vowed never to use the sleeper again.
    Third time was actually more positive, it wasn’t a great sleep, but probably no worse than I get if I have to get a 6am flight, when I never sleep properly the night before and have to get up at 4am.

    If I was going again I’d take Sominex which I use when flying back from the US and trying to get sleep. I’d say if you have to be in the centre of London early its better than flying in terms of sleep and stress, although going down the night before and staying in a hotel is probably better again. The recent issues wouldn’t really put me off, its not like air travel never goes wrong and leaves you stuck in an airport.

    I’m intrigued to try it after the recent upgrades.

    If you were going to/from Ft William or Aviemore which are hours away from airports it would be a no-brainer. My most frequent travel is not to London – if they stopped in Bristol or Cardiff (from Glasgow/Edinburgh) I’d be a regular.

    CraigW
    Member

    They don’t let you share with random people any more. If you are on your own, need to pay for a 2 berth cabin for yourself. Probably not cheap.

    Premier Icon pocpoc
    Subscriber

    Did the Stockholm to Haparanda one while Interailling about 15 years ago.
    Slept so well (sober) that when I woke up thinking we were nearly due at our destination I was shocked to be told that the train had been stopped for 4 hours during the night dues to a technical problem and we still had quite a way to go!

    Premier Icon benp1
    Subscriber

    I’m about a 45 minute ride from getting to the station to grab a sleeper train to Aviemore, always thought it would be good to go for the weekend with my bike. Or leave from work and go straight to work when I get back.

    BUT

    The price is pretty high. I know it saves the cost of a hotel and the faff of flying but they’re really punching. Something like £140 each way I think.

    If I’m going to get a train to go biking I’ll stick with the Lakes for now… I know it’s different but it’s cheaper, quicker and easier

    rkk01
    Member

    Cheers All – more replies than I expected…!

    Feels like it’s not really an option for work – price, lottery re sleep etc.

    Will keep an open mind though

    IHN
    Member

    If we’re sleeper train willy waving, last year me and MrsIHN took the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostock. It were brill.

    Premier Icon pocpoc
    Subscriber

    Doesn’t sound like there’d be much willy to wave in those sorts of temperatures.

    johndoh
    Member

    Nairobi to Mombassa was fantastic, spotting wildlife from the carriage

    Anything would be preferable to using the road* :-O

    *I say road, it goes from metalled road to mental dust-track and back to metalled road again, runs out for a bit then is fine for a bit (all whilst being attacked by lorries/buses/cars coming at you from every direction).

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    The mention of Dusseldorf to Innsbruck got me looking at OBB sleeper trains and I’m tempted by Brussels to Vienna (or vice versa). Some amazing stuff on the OBB page if you live in Austria. Don’t want to transport your bike yourself? Well get it picked up from home, put in a proper bike bag and taken to your destination.

    petec
    Member

    If we’re showing off about journeys that bear no resemblance to the British sleepers, I’ve done Vancouver to Quebec city on the via rail with a couple of stops.

    Longest leg was Winnipeg to Toronto. Two days, stopped once, in a town in the middle of nowhere. Co-incidentally Independence Day (July 1st), it was pre me having a mobile, and it was England v Argentina the day before in the 1998 World Cup. No idea of the bleeding score, and nothing – absolutely nothing – was open.

    And yeah, we did it in seats rather than a berth. Tiring. And there’s not a lot between Winnipeg and Toronto. Lakes and trees really. I think I saw a moose once.

    Vancouver to Edmonton on the other hand was great.

    Also done the sleeper trips skiing more than once. Up all night in the party carriage. Don’t think they exist anymore either unfortunately

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