Nowadays there are multiple low cost flights between Berlin and Copenhagen daily – Easyjet, Air Berlin and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, to name a few. As an alternative, the trusty Berlin Night Express runs every night to Malmö (and back), crossing the Baltic Sea by ferry. Many travellers choose this option with the aim of continuing on from either Copenhagen or Malmo, taking Swedish Railways’ (SJ) reliable and fast network to other destinations, including Stockholm and Gothenburg. While we may not be the true target market for the Berlin Night Express, RASK put it to the test to see if travelling the authentic route is best.
Berlin Night Express
Berlin, Germany - Copenhagen, Denmark
24th September 2015
Staff were informal and friendly. No complaints there. It is unfortunate that the rest of the journey did not live up to this high standard.
Before boarding we had a chance to explore the Berlin Central Station - a destination in its own right. It is Europe’s largest train station – and also one of the most comfortable and fascinating. Be sure to check out the “Hauptbahnhof” if you arrive early! Upon boarding, the train, RASK was immediately struck by how hot and cramped it was. We had decided to take the train at the last minute, so only a couchette was available (rather than a sleeping car). The couchette cars have six beds in each compartment - not particularly luxurious or private. However, while the gangways were narrow, the compartment was not nearly as bad. It was small, but well laid out. Each neat and clean bed, had linen and a plump pillow, and everything appeared very clean and surprisingly inviting. Drinking water and immigration forms for filling out were available on the small shared table in our carriage – a thoughtful touch, asking the papers to be filled in immediately rather than waking us up when we reach the check point.
The carriage was so hot it was difficult to enjoy the journey– we kept the window open as the train sped through Berlin’s suburbs. By 11.30pm RASK was ready to call it a night, but the heat was unbearable, making it impossible to get comfortable. Things got much worse once we got on the ferry at Sassnitz. There is no air conditioning – and on a hot deck on a ferry, in a compartment with five other passengers, it was unbearable. The train got off the ferry in Trelleborg and continued on towards Malmö – where it stopped right outside the city for an hour or two to fit in with other trains’ departures. Finally arriving into Malmo, I made a quick and easy train change and was in Copenhagen half an hour later.
The Berlin Night Express could have been a much more comfortable journey had I travelled mid-Winter (when the air conditioning issues wouldn’t be a problem), and upgraded to a sleeping car. The quality of this train experience does not warrant the price (compared to flying). The couchette arrangement was cramped and hot – an experience that RASK would not recommend.