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Remember the floods? Perhaps you do. Perhaps not. It was five months ago that Europe’s principal east-west rail route was cut by flooding. We reported in June on the flooding and the havoc it created for travelers. In an article here on EuroCheapo in July we speculated that full services on the main line from Berlin to Hannover might not be restored until Christmas or even beyond.
Back to normality
So the good news is that, in the wee small hours of this morning, normal service was restored. This cuts at least an hour off travel times from Berlin to Amsterdam, Cologne and many other cities in western Europe.
Even more important, it means that many more trains can now run. Hourly fast trains from Berlin to Frankfurt-am-Main started again this morning (and the premium extra-fast Frankfurt Sprinter service was reinstated).
Berlin to Amsterdam
Track capacity was limited on the various emergency routes, and schedules were ruthlessly trimmed. In recent months, there have been just two direct daily trains from Berlin to Amsterdam (one day train taking eight hours and a slower overnight service). Effective today, a full service of seven trains a day is restored with six of those seven services taking less than six and a half hours for the journey.
EuroCity and Intercity services
Among the other services that returned to the timetables today is the only direct daytime train from Hamburg to Poland. That’s the EuroCity Wawel service which again runs through from Hamburg to Wroclaw.
A raft of daytime direct InterCity (IC) services linking provincial cities in western Germany with the capital are restored. Passengers on routes from Berlin to Mainz, Tübingen and Heidelberg will all be pleased to see those routes running again.
Many night train journeys across Europe have been disrupted since the floods. Passengers on routes like Amsterdam to Warsaw or Copenhagen to Prague have all had to endure delays. Most services have today returned to normal. The Paris to Berlin City Night Line sleeper service now returns to its regular timings, once again serving Berlin Hauptbahnhof and running on from there to terminate at Berlin Südkreuz station. (During the period of disruption, it took an alternative route into Berlin and did not serve the city’s main rail hub at Hauptbahnhof, terminating instead at Gesundbrunnen station).
The Paris to Moscow sleeper, which has been diverted since June, will return to its regular route from November 19, once again allowing this premium train to stop at Hannover Hauptbahnhof. That will please Hannover’s large Russian community.
A vote of thanks
Overall, the reopening of this main east-west route is good news for European travelers. Five months of hard work by surveyors, engineers and construction workers bore fruit today. Many will raise a cheer that this route has been reopened prior to the busy Christmas and New Year travel period.