City Night Line

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For the predecessor company, see CityNightLine.

City Night Line (abbreviated CNL) is a category of German railway company Deutsche Bahn for overnight passenger train services between Germany and neighbouring European countries. Deutsche Bahn announced to terminate all City Night Line services by December 2016.[1]


Early years[edit]

In 1998, Deutsche Bahn hived off its night train services, which were provided with the train categories EN (EuroNight) and UEx (Urlaubsexpress), from DB Fernverkehr AG to DB AutoZug GmbH. One year later, the CityNightLine AG company, domiciled in Zurich and until then a joint venture operated by Deutsche Bahn and the state-owned railways of Austria and Switzerland, ÖBB and SBB, became a wholly owned subsidiary of DB Fernverkehr AG. It was run by the same management team as DB Autozug GmbH, so that responsibility for all night train categories, which still form the core element of the City Night Line network, lay with one single source from then on. The management of services, rolling stock and pricing of CityNightLine and its then DB counterpart (NachtZug), however, remained separate.

Redevelopment of services[edit]

Parallel to the integration of the two companies, the DB Autozug GmbH night trains were renamed DB NachtZug. On introduction of the new timetable on 15 December 2002, the DB Nachtzug portfolio was increased to 20 trains.[2] Following the emergence of low-cost airlines and the expansion of the international high-speed rail network, DB realised it had to adapt its night train services to the changing requirements of the transport market. The target was to establish overnight services as a supplementary product to high-speed trains over long distances (between 800 and 1500 km). To achieve that objective, the existing train categories CityNightLine (CNL), DB NachtZug (NZ) and UrlaubsExpress (UEx) were amalgamated to form one new product called City Night Line (CNL), which was integrated in the fare systems and sales processes of the different departure countries. The line network was then redesigned to reflect these new objectives: routes which ran parallel to long-distance services were discontinued, other routes were systematically extended, destinations with strong seasonal fluctuations and tourist destinations were replaced by daytime services. In the course of this bundling process, older passenger cars were taken out of service. Since then, the entire fleet of sleeping, couchette and seated cars has been fully air-conditioned. The cars were given a uniform livery in white with red window stripe and all-white doors. The service was standardised on all lines.

The night lines were originally operated by the former railway company CityNightLine. Like DB AutoZug GmbH, the company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn and was integrated in the DB Group as from 1 January 2010 in the form of an asset deal.


At the end of 2014, all City Night Line trains to Denmark and France (Paris) were terminated, as well as some of the lines to the Netherlands (Amsterdam). At the end of 2015, the domestic night trains between Munich and Berlin were also terminated.

In December 2015, Deutsche Bahn decided to cancel all remaining night train services including City Night Line, effective December 2016.[1] Deutsche Bahn plans to run some additional ICE highspeed train services with standard seating by night as a replacement and will also continue to cooperate with foreign train companies that operate night trains to Germany, for example ÖBB.[1]

Rolling stock[edit]

City Night Line trains are made up of compartment or open-saloon coaches with reclining seats, couchette cars, sleeping cars and dining cars. All lines have a special compartment for passengers with restricted mobility. To facilitate the carriage of luggage, either combined couchette and luggage cars are used or seated cars with a special luggage/bicycle compartment. New sleeping cars were designed specially for City Night Line and 2 different types are currently in use: the double-deck sleeping car (type 171.X and 172.X) and Comfortline (type 173.1). The cars are air-conditioned and each compartment has two or three berths, Deluxe cars have a private bathroom (shower, washbasin and WC). There is otherwise a washbasin in each compartment; shower and WC are in the aisle. Laptop connections are only available in the newer Comfortline cars. The compartments have "normal" beds.

Sleeping cars[edit]

Bathroom in sleeping car (Comfortline Deluxe) 
Beds in a sleeping car (with child's safety device) 
Beds in a sleeping car (double-deck Eco) 
Beds in a sleeping car (double-deck Deluxe) 

Couchette cars[edit]

The couchette and seated cars were converted from existing Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn coaches. Couchette cars have 4 or 6 berths and there are three different categories in use, which differ in respect of their additional functions:

  • Couchette car (type 248.5)
  • Couchette car with compartment for passengers with restricted mobility (type 249.1)
  • Combined luggage and couchette car (type 874.1)
Couchette cars (4 berth) 
Couchette cars (6 berth) 
Compartment for passengers with restricted mobility 
Compartment for bikes, ski etc. 

Seated cars[edit]

The seated cars consist of compartment cars (six seats per compartment; type 236.9) and open-saloon cars with reclining seats (types 875.X)

Reclining seats 


City Night Line train from Amsterdam and Hamburg on its way to Zürich shortly before Brig, Switzerland
City Night Line Canopus to Prague in Zürich, Switzerland

The aim of the City Night Line network is to supplement the European long-distance network on long routes. Journey times of six hours or more are shifted to night-time slots so that passengers can sleep as they travel without losing unnecessary time.

City Night Line trains are operated in a through coach system. From their joint departure station, they cover part of the route together as one train; on arrival at a certain station, they are split up and joined to other trains, with which they then continue to the different destination stations. The same procedure applies on the return journey. For example, the trains on the Amsterdam – Munich and Amsterdam - Zurich routes run as a joint train as far as Mannheim, where the train is split up. The train section travelling to Munich is joined to a train coming from Paris with destination Munich, while the section travelling to Zurich is joined to a CNL coming from Hamburg. On the changeover to the 2009/2010 timetable, the number of these shunting processes was reduced to one per network.

The 2016 City Night Line schedule consists of the following services:

Train number Train name Route
CNL 1287/1286 Pyxis HamburgMunich–(Innsbruck)
CNL 40463/40462 Pictor MunichVenice
CNL 419/418 Pollux AmsterdamMunich–(Innsbruck)
CNL 40419/40478 Pegasus AmsterdamZurich
CNL 1259/1258 Sirius (Binz)–BerlinZurich
CNL 458/459 Canopus PragueZurich
CNL 479/478 Komet HamburgZurich
CNL 485/484 Lupus MunichRome
CNL 40485/40484 Apus MunichMilan
CNL 457/456 Kopernikus ColognePrague

Fares and prices[edit]


Fares for CNL services are allocated to the IC/EC Product Category (formerly Product Category B), the second-highest in the three DB passenger transport categories. All saver fares for long-distance services and the corresponding discount options (such as BahnCard) can also be used on City Night Line routes.

The special offers for long-distance services which have meanwhile been introduced (such as the Lidl-Ticket or Tchibo-Ticket) are normally valid, but not always on all City Night Line routes. Passengers have to check the conditions of the individual offer.

Tickets can be purchased a maximum of three months before the first day of validity. Tickets for group travel can be purchased up to twelve months in advance, provided that the relevant timetable has already been published.[3] In addition to the train ticket, passengers also have to make a reservation (see above for exceptions). The reservation is simultaneously valid as the charge for the additional night-time services and the prices vary according to comfort category.

Other countries[edit]


In the Netherlands, City Night Line tickets are generally sold as a global fare, like the fares which apply to transit routes in Germany. Passengers who already have a rail ticket (e.g., Interrail passengers) can purchase reservations separately.


Like the Netherlands


Like Germany. In view of the high share of transit traffic, i.e., passengers heading to the Netherlands, Czech Republic or Denmark, there is a high share of global fare tickets.


The principle is similar to that in France, but with a few special national features.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c DB to withdraw all remaining sleeper trains 21 December 2015
  2. ^ Fahrplanwechsel. In: Eisenbahn-Revue International, Heft 11/2002, ISSN 1421-2811, S. 498 f.
  3. ^ Beförderungsbedingungen für Personen durch die Unternehmen der Deutschen Bahn AG (BB Personenverkehr), Punkt 2.1, mit Stand vom 1. September 2007.


External links[edit]

Media related to CityNightLine at Wikimedia Commons