The mountainous terrain of the champion in question hasn’t held it back. Spread across its 41,285 square kilometres, Switzerland has no less than 5,300 kilometres of railway, with 29,000 kilometres of lines. That makes it one of the most dense railway networks in Europe.
We’re moving onto the next stage: how to go about integrating all the functional and technical elements required on board. We’re going to imagine the practical needs of passengers on our trains, the potential points of friction, and attempt to offer some solutions too.
Geneva regularly appears in top tens of the best places to live in the world, and even though the health crisis may have caused rankings like this to change somewhat over the past couple of years, the charms of this Swiss city remain clear for all to see. Let’s take a closer look.
A very typical festive French meal by Thibault Eurin, the chef at Bien Ficelé in Paris. His establishment is known for offering a unique French spin on a rotisserie-grill experience. The emphasis there is very much on sharing and conviviality, and only quality produce is to be found on the menu.
Today, trains have been reborn thanks to the climate crisis, and leaders haven’t overlooked the opportunity presented by this revival. Let’s take the Rail Baltica project which started back in the 1990s.
After a first season dedicated to how you go about buying trains, this time we are exploring how to design trains, in five main instalments (though no doubt we will return to the subject, since design will play such a huge part in our mission to reinvent the sleeper train).
As soon as you arrive, you’ll be blown away: the entrance to the Art Nouveau station is ringed by four giant sculptures: the Lyhdynkantajat, by artist Emil Wikström, which give the rail station a look that’s equal parts solemn and sublime.
This time she’s whisking us off to the seaside. Bérangère Fagart is the founder of the restaurant Sélune in Paris, where she’s become known for her culinary creativity just as much as her luminous personality. She’s also big on sustainable cooking, and so this seafood dish should evidently use only scallops fished ethically.
Estérelle Payany initiated us in the art of creating true culinary gold from the leftovers in your fridge. We’ve invited the respected critic and chef to provide another recipe – this time from the UK.
In Victorian times, it was nicknamed the ‘the second city of the British empire’, but in reality was a rather grey and gloomy industrial city. Times have obviously changed and Glasgow has thrown off its industrial identity to become a whole lot more colourful and creative.
We’re going to make sure that inventory fits within the limited space of the train, assuring both comfort and optimal use of square footage, in order to define the layout of the carriages.
These days, France and the UK resemble an old couple, that despite everything, will never separate. There are quarrels that arise that are still irreconcilable. But still, there have been achievements that many people would never have thought possible.
She came from a poor family in Missouri, where she was subject to racial segregation, but found her true home in Paris, where she arrived at just 19 years old. After a long boat trip from New York to Cherbourg, she arrived at the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris aboard a train from Normandy one morning in 1925.
Before going about buying trains, there are a number of key steps related to design that are essential because they’ll allow you to analyse the compatibility of the material as it is and to work out the costs of renovation, or to prepare the list of costs once you’ve consulted with manufacturers.
Tucked in the north (relatively speaking) of Sicily, this luminous city is a land of contrasts which will win you over thanks to both its amazing art and architecture, and locals’ laidback way of life. So let’s wander around a little to see what it’s all about.
Estérelle Payany’s palate carries a lot of weight in the culinary world, and while she evidently knows her stuff about restaurants, she’s also a peerless chef whose cookery books are well worth investing in.
Hubris. Six letters that the ancients used to denote a red line that shouldn’t be crossed – unless they wanted to risk angering the Gods. Today hubris corresponds to what you might describe as human folly, a mix of pride and excess that can lead to violent and often outrageous behaviour beyond all imagination.
If you zoom in on Europe, where our company will be operating, the share is roughly the same, with 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions generated by transport. The situation varies by country and in France, for example, the impact of transport on climate change is even more significant: it is responsible for 30 percent of emissions, making it the most polluting sector of all.
We’re heading off to Barcelona, surely one of the most characterful Mediterranean cities there is. The Catalan capital has long been one of Europe’s most creative, cultural cities, and since the 1980s, it has gradually undergone huge change and become one of European travellers’ favourite destinations.
There are a thousand ways to travel by train. Some see it as a pause, a moment of respite from the daily grind. Others view it as a way to discover the landscapes that file past the window. And then there are those who see an opportunity to work away at something, an idea. The journey becomes their inspiration.
When Consuelo remembered the first time she’d travelled to the USSR, in 1986, and had taken the train for 56 hours. So she called up SNCF to find out whether this train was still running to Moscow. The person on the other end said there was no longer such a service. Consuelo asked why. The only response she got after that was: ‘We have no information for you, because we don’t speak to the Russians.’
Anyone who goes to Moscow will inevitably head straight to Red Square. So many historic events have taken place there that it’s easy to overlook just how old this public square is: it was built in 1480, during the reign of Tsar Ivan III. To the south, the majestic, colourful, almost hypnotic St Basil’s Cathedral looms over the city.
A thoroughly wintry story – one that inspired Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient-Express. On January 1 1934, when she published this legendary thriller, Christie could have had little idea how widely her Hercule Poirot caper would be read.
It’s always pretty easy writing about others. Since the launch of Midnight Trains, that’s what I’ve been doing in this newsletter: allowing you to get to know the talented team of individuals who’ve come together to make our sleeper-train company a success.
We’ll be heading to Nice, the dazzling capital of the Côte d’Azur. Or rather, Nissa la Bella, as the proud locals refer to it. And they have good reason to be, their home city being as radiant as it is (and so important inspiration for so many artists past and present). Without further ado, let’s head on a brief tour.
The relationship between the French capital and the train is almost as old as the first railway lines. And in fact, very early on, the city set up its own internal train network that still breathes life into the city today – even if it doesn’t have its original function.
Just as the Petite Ceinture was built to improve life for Parisians – and give the French economy a boost – so today the French capital has plans for another big railway project that will better connect the city centre with the surrounding banlieues. Introducing the Grand Paris Express.
While both of the major Portuguese cities have attracted huge numbers of visitors in recent years, many still like to draw contrasts between them. As one common saying has it: ‘Lisboa diverte-se e o Porto trabalha’ (‘Lisbon has fun and Porto works’).
When David Bowie died in 2016, he was celebrated as a musical genius and a rock icon. There was his voice, his songwriting talent, his taste for the avant-garde, his beauty. He got an appropriately huge send-off.
We’ll be taking you to the most convivial of places on board: the restaurant carriage, where you’ll be able to sit down to dine or simply pull up a stool at the bar and drink a glass of natural wine or a homemade cocktail.
This idyllic destination could make a great next trip for you and your loved one: Prague. Such is this city’s beauty that you feel almost like you’ve been whisked off to another planet.
A decent meal, and the conviviality it can provide, is one of our musts when it comes to preparing the trains that will allow our passengers to travel all over Europe from our Paris HQ. What can you expect?
Hamburg. Germany’s second city is increasingly giving Berlin a run for its money. But it has a dark past: more than 80 percent of it was destroyed during the Second World War and its reconstruction was slow.
Thierry Roussel is one of the four (fantastic) advisers who are helping our co-founders Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet make the key strategic decisions that’ll allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
This line had two names: Fugleflugtslinjen (in Danish) ou Vogelfluglinie (en German), which both mean the ‘bird flight line’. Something to do with the technical prowess of the train drivers, perhaps?
After all, this place is so inspiring that several other cities have tried to brand themselves the Venice of Scandinavia (Stockholm), the North (Bruges), the Middle East (Basra) or even the Languedoc (Sète)?
The nineteenth century was the period when the railways really got going. Politics, economics and a general ambition to spread influence all over the continent – all combined to accelerate technological progress and led to the development of rail lines across Europe.
Franck Gervais is one of the four (fantastic) advisers whose role is to help co-founders Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet make the key strategic decisions that will allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
Our sleeper trains will offer a new cross-border travel experience all the way across the continent. So how could we not stop off in Brussels, that city that appears very much like the capital of the European Union (if there were such a thing)?
Did you know that each year, people in France have the right to savings of between 25 to 50 percent on a return train in France for them, their partner and their children?
Odile Fagot is one of our four advisers, whose role is to aid our co-founders, Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, on their strategic decisions – ones that should allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
Marseille is a city of contrasts, and to really get a feel for it, it’s best to properly spend some time there – an extended holiday, say, rather than a flying visit.
Still today, the Orient-Express is the sleeper train that people all over the world are likely to be able to name. And while we have all probably heard our own stories and anecdotes about this mythical service, we want to tell you a bit about a side of its history that’s little known to most: the love affairs it has provided cover for.
Even if you don’t think you know him, Yorgo Tloupas is one of those people you may well have bumped into, at one time or another. Look around you: it’s very possible that the fruit of his imagination is lying right in front of you.
Just like the banks of the Bosphorus strait, which appear to face off against each other (or embrace, depending which way you look at it), Istanbul is one of the most symbolic meeting-points between Europe and Asia.
Before exploring one of the most beautiful Celtic nations in the world, we’ll be kicking off this edition of Midnight Weekly in a train station much further south – Porto’s São Bento. And we’ll say this straight off the bat: this is one of the most beautiful stations in the world.
We’ve now come to what is probably the juiciest subject of the lot: how do you finance all this stuff? When you’re a newcomer in the rail sector, there are two possibilities.
Its unique blend of history and modernity, pride and conviviality, lends Edinburgh a very particular, almost magical air. The castle is no doubt the most iconic landmark in the city, and its turbulent history closely matches that of this fiercely independent nation as a whole.
Another excellent dish by the chef, who’s widely considered one of the world’s greatest Italian cooks. This recipe was conceived as a morning-after remedy, if you’ve gone a little hard on a night out. That’s why it’s called ‘midnight spaghetti’.
We are going to be travelling through the Pyrénées, not far from the Franco-Spanish border. To be precise, we’ll be stopping off at the international train station in Canfranc, which is often referred to as the Flying Dutchman of the railways.
Having explained last week how and why a new rail operator might go about purchasing used material, this week we’ll be focusing on new equipment – both its advantages and disadvantages.
Lisbon is another one of the destinations our trains will take you to (and we’re actually a little embarrassed it’s taken us this long to pay homage to this beautiful city). For a long time its charms were unfairly overlooked, but over the past decade or so, this city has become one of Europe’s most exciting metropolises.
Because you can never get too much of a good thing when it comes to food. We’re delighted to share with you a recipe from the repertoire of new-gen Parisian chef Charles Compagnon.
A train pulls into the station, the sky a radiant hue, before steadily slowing down and stopping. So far, so normal: passengers descend from the carriages; others climb aboard. Nothing really extraordinary happens. But actually, it did.
We take you behind the scenes of Midnight Trains HQ. And so why not start from the very top? Right now we’re going to explain how exactly we’re going about buying our trains.
Welcome to the Eternal City: Rome is one of those rare places pretty much every visitor wants to return again and again to. And with all roads famously leading there, that seems pretty fortunate.
He’s undoubtedly the most acclaimed Roman chef in the world. Giovanni Passerini has done us the honour of sharing one of his favourite recipes. On the menu? Gricia, a true classic of Roman cooking. Buon appetito!
There are a handful of stories from the time still well worth sharing. One pretty much guaranteed to make you smile is the one known as the tale of the Tsar’s finger.
Moving fast, running has become a way to reassure us we are really living. But within this infinite rush, is it still possible to find the distance necessary to define what’s really indispensable for us to feel fulfilled?
What better than a quick stop in Stockholm to continue taking things at your own pace, to the rhythm of the waters that irrigate every corner of the Swedish capital?
Chef Alexia Duchêne shares a brilliantly simple way to use up that halloumi you’ve got at the back of the fridge. A semi-healthy summer pick-me-up for two people.
It would be pretty difficult for a company aiming for its trains to whisk travellers across Europe all night long not to look at what’s happening in the Land of the Rising Sun right now.
Here at Midnight Trains, we’re aiming to offer passengers an unforgettable experience on-board our services. To let you in on the key ideas that inspire us, we asked Yorgo Tloupas, our creative director, to share his vision for the brand.
In the Austrian capital, one of the best examples must be the huge, gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral, right opposite the Haas Haus, a postmodern building by architect Hans Hollein.
The recipe is the work of Angèle Ferreux-Maeght, whose restaurant La Guinguette d’Angèle (Paris) places an emphasis on seasonal and well-sourced produce.
Let’s get a little bit closer to the Lombard capital by climbing aboard an iconic service: the Train Bleu. This history of this legendary train closely mirrors that of sleeper trains in general, from their heyday to their decline.
We’re getting closer to our arrival in Milan, and so what better way in than to climb aboard another train – one of those run by the company Italo. This private railway firm was the first business in Europe to specialise in high-speed rail travel.
It’s no surprise the city was chosen as the host of the last Exposition Universelle in 2015 and that it will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2026.
A recipe that makes the perfect summer weeknight dinner. At Erba Brusca, where she has her own herb garden, the chef Alice Delcourt cooks up exquisite dishes that always chime with Wendell Berry’s famous mantra, ‘eating is an agricultural act’.
All those safety protocols can get a little off-putting, let's be honest. Are you among the 30 percent of people who are afraid of flying?
It’s a Swedish word we’d like to focus on to start with: a specific term that sums up the spirit of the moment, tågskryt, or literally, pride in taking the train.
For a long time, a sleeper train left Paris’s Gare du Nord for Copenhagen (København in Danish), allowing passengers to wake up in a city defined by subdued elegance everywhere you look.
It's the turn of Danish chef Christian Kanstrup Pedersen who heads up Michelin-starred Pure & V (Nice, France) to share one of his favourite recipes: a beef tartare you’ll probably be thinking about for weeks afterwards. To the kitchen!
The French capital will be home to the first of our hubs, from which you’ll be able to travel in style and comfort towards major cities across the Continent – as soon as we’re done reinventing the sleeper train, that is.
It’s a long forgotten bestseller. In 1926, at the height of the Roaring Twenties, La Madone des sleepings enjoyed a success worthy of a Goncourt Prize. Its 400,000 copies showcase the colorful adventures of Lady Diana Winham, a resolutely free woman who has chosen to live exclusively on board international night trains.
We continue to introduce you to those who make the Midnight Trains adventure possible. After getting to know Adrien Aumont, it is Romain Payet, co-founder, that we present to you today.
We’ve asked Bertrand Grébaut, sustainable cookery pioneer and owner of Michelin-star restaurant Septime, to give us the lowdown on a timeless Parisian classic. À table!
Today we’re travelling back in time to an era where Paris, Milan, Madrid, Hamburg and Copenhagen weren’t yet part of the same time zone.
The principal aim of Midnight Trains is to overhaul the sleeper-train sector – and revolutionise how we travel comfortably (and sustainably) in the twenty-first century.
It has been the destination of many Europeans in need of restaurants open during the last confinement and yet, it is good now, when summer is here, that we very much want to go and forget about ourselves in the Spanish capital.
We went to Bérangère Fagart, the much-hyped chef from Sélune in Paris, who sent over an excellent gazpacho recipe. This classic Spanish dish, a cold soup, is often served as an aperitif or starter, and is a go-to when the temperature really starts to rise.
At Midnight Trains, we leave the greenwashing to others. For us, it’s quite simple: if a business has to invent an impact, it’s going through the wall. We might as well say that we had this conviction firmly rooted in our bodies when we decided to embark on the adventure of night trains in Europe.
Florence, the last city where Adrien Aumont, co-founder of Midnight Trains, went by train, that goes without saying!
What if heads of state gave up the good old government aeroplane? We reckon Midnight Trains could persuade them to. And if you look in the history books, that ambition wouldn’t seem all that far-fetched.
We asked chef Alessandro Candido, founder of Paris restaurant Candide, to share a recipe he’d recommend you try on arrival in Florence.