With a chaotic summer of air travel in Europe coming to an end, many travelers will be reevaluating their choices for their next vacation. Train travel is enjoying a renaissance across the continent, and a new sleeper service is set to slash the travel time by train between the U.K. and one of Scandinavia’s most popular cities to just one day.
The key piece of the journey is a new electric-powered overnight train between Hamburg and Stockholm. Operated by Swedish railway operator SJ, the new service beings September 1.
Previously, the most direct overland travel options between London and Stockholm required an overnight stop in Hamburg or a night on a ferry. Now, travelers will be able to leave London in the morning and be in the Swedish capital city the next morning.
Named EuroNight, the new sleeper train features compact sleeping cars with a range of sleeping accommodation along with regular seating. First class cabins holding up to three people feature a private shower and toilet.
The fastest London to Stockholm itinerary
Assuming no delays, travelers based in London will be able to get to Stockholm in just under 24 hours. From Stockholm, train connections are available to destinations all over Sweden.
Departing London St Pancras on one of the regular two-hour Eurostar services to Brussels at either 8.16am or 9.05am, passengers would then need to change on to a train to Hamburg via Cologne. From Hamburg, the sleeper train is scheduled to leave at 9.55pm and travels via Copenhagen before arriving in Stockholm approximately 12 hours later.
In the other direction, the overnight service departs Stockholm at 5.34pm and arrives into Hamburg at approximately 6.30am.
While the journey time is still much slower than a direct flight (the typical flight time for London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda is 2.5 hours), the new option is sure to be attractive for those embracing slow travel.
The service will likely be popular far beyond British travelers. Hamburg is already an important hub on the European railway network. The new overnight service to Stockholm will also be attractive to travelers in Paris and Berlin, among other cities.
Those less concerned with time and more keen to enjoy the journey could take the Eurostar the night before and spend the night in Brussels. This would also allow more time to enjoy Hamburg before taking the night train to Stockholm.
Train travel booming in Scandinavia
The sleeper service is also sure to be popular with Swedish travelers heading to Europe. An SJ press spokesperson told The Local the train operator had experienced “a demand we’ve never seen before” in recent months.
For several years, Swedes have shown an increased interest in traveling by train because of environmental concerns. The term flygskam meaning “flight shame” came into general use in 2018. According to European Environment Agency data, rail travel emits one-tenth fewer carbon emissions per kilometer traveled than air travel.
It’s likely that the chaos in European airports this summer with airlines canceling many flights together with the SAS pilots’ strike has also driven more train bookings in Sweden this year.