Jonas Rask Eilersen
City Night Line Deluxe Sleeper
Berlin, Germany - Zurich, Switzerland
22nd September 2015

A hassle-free alternative to flying. Depart one amazing city centre in the evening and arrive to another in the morning. Deutsche Bahn, German Railways, operates a number of City Night Line trains on routes between several European countries. We road (rail) tested the journey from Berlin to Zurich.

We departed on time from Berlin at 22.14, having had our tickets checked by a friendly male conductor. Berlin’s railway station (the largest in Europe) is jam packed with shops and activities, so early birds will find plenty to keep themselves amused! Once en route, the conductor knocked on RASK’s door to check tickets and to take our passports; a formality which ensures that passengers are not unnecessarily woken up at the border with Switzerland. We arrived right on schedule, at 09.17
The train appeared very well kept from the inside; there was barely a scratch or dent in the wall panels, and our double compartment was spotless. As expected, it was very small – but it was an ingenious use of space. There were two bunk beds which convert into seats during the day. As the train’s departure was relatively late in the evening, the beds were already folded down and made up, with good quality sheets. A compact shower, wash basin, toilet and mirror could be found behind the door, and luggage racks made it possible to stow away the luggage without using valuable floor space. Shower gel and towels were available, and plenty of hot water. By far the best feature, however, was the skylight above the top bunk,making it possible to lie in the bed and look straight into the night sky.
After an efficient start, we found ourselves rolling through Berlin’s suburbs. RASK lay back and admired the glowing city lights in the pouring rain – it felt so much better lying in a nicely made bed than standing in a check-in queue at Tegel airport! The conductor knocked on our door to check tickets and to take our passports; this is a formality which ensures that passengers are not unnecessarily woken up at the border with Switzerland.
We woke up in the morning to the conductor’s knock. Having passed the border to Switzerland, we were handed our passports along with a small, but perfectly adequate, continental breakfast - a croissant, juice, paté and a roll, rounded off with coffee.
Perceived Value
If you factor in the cost of a Zurich hotel - travelling with the City Night Line is a bargain.
RASK thoroughly recommends the scenic route! We pulled into Zurich’s Hauptbahnhof well rested and with none of the stress of a plane journey. There were limited facilities onboard the train (there was no bistro car, for example), but this didn’t really matter too much because of the late departure time. Not only was it cheaper, but it was also much more comfortable than a plane - and the views were stunning.