The spring is not yet entirely sprung, but sunny days are certainly here. For European transport operators, the period from mid-March to mid- June is prime season for big infrastructure projects. The hope of stable spring weather is the cue for track maintenance, renewal of airport runways and harbor renovations—in the expectation that normal services can be properly restored before the busy summer season starts in mid-June.
So it’s the time of year to check well prior to departure whether your chosen trains and planes really will be running to normal schedules. You could be in for a big surprise.
Milan-Bergamo Airport closed
That’s certainly what awaits travelers bound for Italy’s fourth-busiest airport in a three-week period starting 13 May. Il Caravaggio Airport at Bergamo (sometimes marketed as Orio al Serio or Milan-Bergamo) is served by over a dozen scheduled airlines—among them Ryanair which in 2014 is offering direct flights into Bergamo from 70 airports across Europe. That mighty total includes 15 new routes to Bergamo which launch at the start of next month.
Except that from May 13 thru June 1, Ryanair will not be flying into Bergamo at all, nor will any other airline. This is due to runway renewal, but the airport is also taking this chance to undertake some building work in the terminal building. Some carriers are diverting flights to other airports in the Milan region, others are suspending services altogether for this three-week period.
Track work in Warsaw
Rail travelers through Warsaw this week have encountered a seasonal bout of infrastructure renewal, with many rail services thru the center of the Polish capital rerouted and re-timed. Work started last Sunday on a three month project to modernize bridges just east of Centralna station. This means that Gdanska station (a short ride by metro north of the city center) has been pressed into service as a temporary terminus for many long-distance rail services. The revised arrangements still allow passengers taking daytime trains from Vienna and Berlin to connect conveniently into late afternoon onward services to Russia and Ukraine. It just means that you need to change at Warsaw Gdanska rather than Centralna station. You can read about these changes to rail service to, from and thru Warsaw in yesterday’s European Rail News.
Night trains from Paris
Some of the premium night train services from Paris are affected by track work in eastern France in the weeks ahead. During the month of May, the Paris to Moscow service will run just once weekly, with departures from the Gare de l’Est in Paris on Saturday mornings. For the eastbound run from Moscow to Paris, the train will leave from Belorusskaya station in Moscow on Thursday mornings.
City Night Line departures from Paris will also be affected on certain dates. By way of example, there will be simply no overnight rail services from Paris on the routes to Hamburg, Munich and Berlin on the following dates in June: 1 thru 6 June and 9 thru 12 June. Overnight trains from Germany to Paris are also cancelled on these days.
Big changes in Cologne
Work starts this week on renewing one of Europe’s busiest railway bridges. The Hohenzollern Bridge, which crosses the Rhine just east of Cologne Hauptbahnhof, normally carries 1,200 trains each day. But a major project to modernize the bridge means that until April 7 many rail services in the Cologne area are being re-timed and/or diverted. Some long-distance services which would normally serve Hauptbahnhof will be stopping instead at Köln Messe-Deutz on the east bank of the river. ICE trains to Berlin will run from Hauptbahnhof but will depart up to ten minutes earlier than usual.
Wherever you are traveling in Europe over the coming three months, take time to check whether schedules have changed.