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Everything you need to know about the new Stockholm to Hamburg night trains

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Everything you need to know about the new Stockholm to Hamburg night trains
The EuroNight train to Hamburg prepares to leave Stockholm on Thursday. Photo: Jakop Dalunde

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ on Thursday ran the first of its new daily night trains between Stockholm and Hamburg. Here's what you need to know.


When do the new trains run? 

Starting on September 1st, the new EuroNight service will leave Stockholm every afternoon at 5.34pm, and arrive at Hamburg Altona station at 6.35am in the morning (8.51pm on Sundays). The train stops in Norrköping, Linköping, Alvesta, Hässleholm, Lund, Malmö, Copenhagen Airport, and Odense.  

It will be possible to board the train in Malmö between its arrival at 10.40pm and its departure at 11.44pm. 

On the Hamburg-Stockholm leg, the train will leave Hamburg at 9.55pm and arrive in Stockholm at 9:55am, stopping at the same stations.


How did it go for first trains on Thursday and Friday? 

According to Peter Krameus, communications strategist for SJ, the inaugural trip was a success, which had been helped by a test train run two weeks ago. 

"It went well. We hit Hamburg at the right time, and this morning, the train from Hamburg reached Stockholm, I think, 20 minutes late," he told The Local. "It's a small step towards improving international travel by train." 

Jakop Dalunde, an MEP with Sweden's Green Party, posted pictures of the departure on the Tågsemester Facebook page.

"It felt historic," he told The Local. "It's the first time in decades we have daily night trains to the continent all year round. It's amazing. It's part of a renaissance for European railways." 

How much do tickets cost? 

According to SJ's English language page on the service, prices will go from 264 kr for a seat, to 2,172 kronor for a proper bed in a first class sleeping compartment. There is a discount of 25 percent for children up to the age of 15, while children up to the age of five can share a bed with an adult for free. Youths between 16 and 26 have a 15 percent discount, and seniors have a 10 percent discount. 

These prices are the starting prices however, and will only be available for those who book long in advance. SJ has a demand-based pricing system, meaning the prices will rise as more and more tickets are sold. 


When and where can I book tickets? 

Tickets can be booked on SJ's website here, but are currently only available up until December 9th, with all tickets up until this date fully sold out.

According to Krameus, a new round of tickets will be released on or before September 15th covering dates between December 10th and New Year's Eve. 


What sort of compartments are available? 

As SJ's own night train carriages are too broad to run on the continent, the company has hired carriages previously used by the Nightjet Service in Germany and Austria, now run by Austrian rail company ÖBB. The carriages ordered include first class sleeping compartments, second class sleeping compartments, second class couchette carriages, and second class seated carriages. 

The first and second class sleeping compartments have between one and two properly made beds inside them, with their own basins. The couchette compartments have six fold-down bunks, with passengers expected to make their own beds with the sheets provided, and shared basins. 

A EuroNight train in the Swedish city of Linköping bound for Hamburg. Photo: Jakop Dalunde

The seated carriages either have five person cabins, or open seating in carriages.   

Unfortunately, a complex bureaucratic hurdle has meant that the Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority (Trafikstyrelsen) is unable to approve the sleeping carriages (sovvagn) and seated carriages (sittvagn), meaning the trains ran on Thursday night with only couchette carriages. 

"There is new EU legislation called the Railway Package, which says that if a carriage is approved in one EU country it is automatically approved in other EU countries," Krameus explained. "But Denmark has not implemented this legislation, so we have to get these cars approved by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA). It is the first time that this new legislation has been in place, and therefore it came as a surprise to us that Denmark has taken this stand." 

He said that SJ has so far said that ERA approval will not come in September, meaning it will be at least a month before the sleeping and seated carriages will be operated. 


What's the background to the service? 

Sweden's Green Party made restarting night trains to the continent one of its election pledges in the run-up to the 2018 election, and in 2019 the red-green coalition government subsidised a study into possible routes, after which the Swedish Transport Administration issued a tender for subsidised routes from Stockholm to Hamburg and from Malmö to Brussels.

"It was a key election promise from us to procure a train from Sweden to the continent as part of enabling people to travel more sustainably," Dalunde said. "It's a risky move to to commit to such a project. So that's why we thought the subsidy was necessary to kickstart it. But once it's there, I think that this will be only the first step. I assume there will be new night trains coming forward." 

SJ won the bidding for the Stockholm to Hamburg route, but no rail company bid for the Malmö to Brussels route. 

"The commercial terms in that procurement weren't good enough, and they didn't get any company willing to run that service," Krameus said of the Brussels route. 

The subsidy will continue until May 15th 2023, after which SJ intends to continue running the service for at least another four years. 

"We have said that we will run the service every day, year around, from May 15th to September 14th on our own commercial terms. We think there is enough demand to make it profitable," he said. 


What will it mean for travellers from Sweden? 

According to Mark Smith, the former British Rail station manager who runs the excellent Themaninseat61 rail travel website, the new service will be a "game changer" for travellers from Sweden, making it possible to do the trip from Stockholm to London in 24 hours throughout the year. 

This is likely to mean more Stockholmers take the train to Europe, rather than flying, as it is possible to start your travelling day already in Hamburg. 

"Hamburg for Scandinavians is really the port to Europe," Dalunde said. "From Hamburg, you have excellent connections to the rest of the continent, both with high-speed rail and with night trains." 

Is there any competition? 

Yes. Snälltåget, the Swedish train operator owned by Transdev, already runs a train from Stockholm to Berlin, via Hamburg in the spring, summer and autumn, but uses the sleeper train to take Swedes to the country's northern ski resorts in the winter. 

Are there any plans to extend the service? 

According to Krameus, in March 2023, SJ is considering extending the train beyond Hamburg to Cologne, Berlin or even to Paris. 

"As you know, we arrive in Hamburg at 6.30am, so it will be possible to go on for another three hours in any other direction, to Cologne, Berlin or Paris. This is something we are looking at right now. We want to do it but everything is not finished yet."


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