Nightstar in a dreamSir – Reports that sleeping car services from provincial UK cities to Paris and Brussels will be abandoned (RG 8.97 p497) renders the Channel Tunnel Night Stock sleeping cars a costly white elephant, even allowing for any future conversions.The idea of running sleeping car trains from regional British cities to Paris and Brussels was never very good, for a number of reasons which have nothing to do with the oft-quoted technical problems. In essence, the market for travel from cities such as Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff and Plymouth to Paris and Brussels is very small compared to the equivalent London – Paris/Brussels market. This is evidenced by the relatively small number of air services currently operated – well below a fifth of those from London’s airports, even with Eurostar already running and taking significant market share.Surely the best use for the Night Stock is on long distance sleeper services between London and major European cities much further afield. I suggest two principal services – a ’French’ one and a ’German’ one. By detaching portions en route, the ’French’ service could cater for Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Genève, Torino and Milano, whilst the ’German’ train could cover the Ruhr, Frankfurt, Hamburg, München, Berlin and Zürich plus key towns in between. Coaches could be taken to their destinations independently or in other trains.Train travel by luxury sleeper is very civilised, particularly when there is good on board catering. I believe night sleepers from London to Europe would be a real attraction to business travellers as well as a profitable proposition for the operators.Andrew Cook, CBE Chairman, William Cook plc, Sheffield, Great Britain
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