To their fans, night trains sum up the best of the European project. They are time efficient, environmentally sustainable, and irresistibly romantic: you go to sleep in one country and wake up in another, possibly having made friends along the way. In public at least, Europe's politicians and railway companies agree: in December 2009, many of them ceremonially boarded a specially commissioned "Climate Express" from Brussels to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Yet five years later, sleeper trains are being silently phased out across the continent, while countries elsewhere in the world are modernising their services. Deutsche Bahn, the German rail provider, confirmed this month that its City Night Line sleeper trains on the Climate Express route would cease from 1 November, while the night train that connects Paris to Berlin, Hamburg and Munich will be stopped from December. The Amsterdam to Prague and Warsaw sleeper will be cut back to run from Cologne to Warsaw and Prague. The … [Read more...] about End of the line for Europe’s iconic night trains?
In the House of Terror, one of Budapest’s most popular tourist attractions, two mannequins’ torsos stand back to back on a rotating platform, one wearing the uniform of Hungary’s communist secret police, the other that of the Arrow Cross fascist party. They bear mute testimony to the traumas of 20th-century history in this corner of Europe. Mária Schmidt, the museum’s director, says she would like to show her display to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, thus reminding her that in 1945 Hungary was occupied by the two most brutal totalitarian regimes of the last century in the space of a single year. This would, she believes, explain why the country remains fiercely proud of its independence and suspicious of “neocolonial attitudes” towards eastern Europe from Brussels. “We are Hungarians, and we want to preserve our culture,” Schmidt says, sitting in the museum’s boardroom. “We don’t want to copy what the Germans … [Read more...] about Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent?