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Germany

The ‘Lisinski’ from Munich to Zagreb

There are twenty-five platforms at Munchen Hbf, but tonight it would seem that all the international night trains are going to depart from platform 12. On consultation with a station manager it turns out that my train is a polymorph. Four trains begin as one and take on their own route during the night. One huge composition of differing rail carriages sits at platform 12 with staff wearing all sorts of uniforms. It feels a little like arriving at a new boarding school and trying to find your housemaster and dormitory. In search of carriage 271 I pass carriages going […]

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Train 463 – The “Kalman Imre” from Munich to Budapest

Tonight’s journey is my first taste of a Hungarian train. At first sight it looks quite unusual here on platform 14 of Munich HBF, surrounded by modern high speed (ICE) trains. The Kalman Imre is actually more than one train at this stage of the night. It is made up of just five carriages – a sleeper and a coach to Budapest, a sleeper and a coach to Zagreb and a coach to Venice. During the night there will be much railway shuffling. More of this later. My carriage is number 263, in the middle of the train. It is […]

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The Duplex TGV from Paris to Munich

Paris Gare d’Est is a charming and rather old school French railway station. By modern standards it’s simple, but perfectly formed. The atmosphere is relaxed, but there are signs of obvious tension around the edges. Paris has suffered so much and security is obviously at a heightened state, especially at railway stations. My immediate priority on arrival is an emergency ablution pit stop. I’m not well. As I have a first class ticket for my next train, I head straight for the SNCF Grand Voyage lounge. Outside the lounge are a pair of female soldiers dressed in full combats. They […]

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The Berlin-Warszawa Express

Well I’m having an interesting day in the office.¬†Things started out well, I managed to get myself onto platform 11 of Berlin Hbf with plenty of time to spare. The temperature is just warm enough to sit outside without getting too cold.¬†Today I’m on the EC 43 service, destination Warsaw. The train is run by PKP – the Polish state owned railway company. Right on cue a weirdly pink locomotive pulled in to the platform. At the front of the train was carriage 272, my first class home for the day. I had a “fenster” again, thanks to the usual […]

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Probably the Best Railway Station in the World

If I ever had to vote in a competition for the best railway station in the world, I would almost certainly choose Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Hbf). I would have thought for a moment about Shinjuku, Beijing South and maybe even the new Kings Cross, but none really come close to Berlin Hbf. If you have never been, it’s an ultra modern multi level station which at times feels like a shopping centre. That’s because it is in part a shopping centre. As you approach the station on the inter city tracks you climb up and enter the very top deck of […]

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City to City

I have to tell you that if you have never heard a Dutch station announcer say the words “Inter City” in English you have missed a minor treat of schoolboy humour. I have been trying to learn a few words of local train lingo for this trip. I’m pretty good in Russian, and even know a few things in Chinese, but so far I have rather neglected my Dutch and German. So I’m pleased to learn that today I’m on a train that’s a “zug”, and I’m sitting in what I think is a “fenster”. Not a nice guitar, but […]

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Silver Streak

I wish the title of this post referred to the amazing speed and effortless agility of the German ICE train. I really do, but it doesn’t. Instead it refers to that fun 1976 train caper film with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Have you seen it? Specifically the bit about being chucked off your train and then trying to catch it up and overtake it. More of this later. I’m actually really pleased to have been hit by a minor train based crisis today. I needed something to rebase my reactions to a relatively minor travel problem in the grand […]

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