The Drama of International Train Travel

The eco hero I am aspiring to be, I have tried to book a train trip from Uppsala to London (and back) to visit a conference. These are the barriers I had to overcome:

1. Travel

My company portal:

  • My company travel team was hesitant to support train journeys (“Are you really sure?”).
  • My company travel portal only allows booking national train journeys, ie only Sweden and not cross-border.
  • My company travel team’s payments are not accepted by Deutsche Bahn (German Railway), ie my company cannot buy German train tickets.

After that I asked privately a travel agency (, which is specializing on international train journeys:

  • Construction sites between Stockholm-Malmö all summer (had to go via Gothenburg to get back to Uppsala).
  • Night trains Stockholm-Hamburg not available as scheduled in time table (because of construction sites).
  • Private travel agency cannot buy tickets for Eurostar train (cross channel). I had to buy them separately.
  • Strikes by unionized railworkers in Germany.
  • Train (snälltaget) Stockholm-Malmö does not sell single person ticket, only coupes (cabins).


  • For another trip Uppsala-Basel, all travel agencies had the problem that Swedish railway had not released their timetables for September (as of end of  May) yet, making it hard to book or get cost estimates (line managers love cost estimates!).

All these problems are avoidable if there would be a the political will to maintain the railway system, pay rail workers adequately, and bind railway companies legally on a unified standard for timetable information and ticket purchases.

2. Accommodation

Since sleeper trains are harder and harder to book, one will have to find an accommodation while travelling during multi-day trips. Since paying regulator hotel costs in central areas around the main train station in cities (>150 Euros) just to sleep 8 hours (or less) arriving late at night and getting up early in the morning to catch your train seems excessive, here are the alternatives, I came up with:

Note: In Japan, rental cars are so cheap that they are also just rented for sleeping (however, mostly shorter naps) [1].