Review: Night Trains: The Rise and Fall of the Sleeper

Night Trains: The Rise and Fall of the Sleeper Night Trains: The Rise and Fall of the Sleeper by Andrew Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Modern travel is ubiquitous. For a startlingly small amount of money, you can fly to a lot of places around Europe with the budget airlines. This does involve having to get to some slightly obscure airports at some unearthly hour of the morning, pass through a moderately humiliating security check before winging your way to the sun. Have the days of glamourous travel final vanished? However, there are still ways of arriving in a foreign city feeling refreshed without having to suffer the cattle class air transport and that is to find the night trains that are still running across Europe.

Andrew Martin decides to see if they are still a viable method of travelling across the continent and to see if the glamour of the past age has rubbed off on the modern transport. Martin catches various trains across Europe; The Blue Train from the Gare de Lyon in the heart of Paris to Nice on the Mediterranean coast, The ‘Orient Express’, a train that is a legend in its own right, though they no longer recommend carrying a pistol. He travels into the twilight zone on The Nordland Railway, one of Europe’s most scenic train journeys. He takes the Berlin Night Express that travels from the Swedish city of Malmö to Berlin before heading back to Paris for The Sud Express and then Paris-Venice.

This is part travelogue and partly a nostalgic look back at the golden age of night express trains that used to flow back and forwards across Europe. It is a more expensive way to travel, but whilst it doesn’t have the prestige of years past with their gilded dining carriages and champagne flowing, going to sleep in one country and waking up in another, definitely makes the travel element a major part of the experience. It is still a relatively safe form of travel that attracts a variety of characters and because it is not always straightforward it makes for interesting reading. It was a way of him reliving some of the holidays that he had as a small child travelling Europe with his father and sister, arranged for by The British Railwaymen’s Touring Club in the early 1970’s. I have read a number of Martin’s books in the past and this is another that he has written that is definitely worth reading. 3.5 stars

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  1. DoingDewey

    I'm not a big fan of travelogues, but I'm intrigued by this one because I love the idea of sleeping on a train.

  2. Paul Cheney

    I rad a lot of travel books. There are some excellent ones out there and also a lot of average ones

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