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press release

ESNtrain project cancelled

The ESNtrain project, organised by platform GmbH, has been cancelled. Please have a look at the main site for further information. Please also note that ESN AISBL was not involved in the organisation of the ESNtrain project. 


Download the PDF Version (Release 2009-03-25) of the FAQ here.


General Questions

  1. What is ESNtrain?
  2. Who stands behind the project?
  3. How did the ESNtrain project start?
  4. When is the ESNtrain in ... ?
  5. Why don't you stay longer in ...?
  6. Are there not too many different railway systems in Europe?
  7. Who is supporting and financing the project?
  8. It was cancelled in 2007 - why should it work now?
  9. What stands SEPA for?

Participant Questions

  1. Who can participate?
  2. What can I expect from ESNtrain?
  3. Where can I board/leave the train?
  4. Where can I sleep, eat, shower and charge my mobile during the trip?
  5. How do I sign up for activities?
  6. Do I need visa for the trip?
  7. Do I have to bring my sleeping bag?
  8. What if I miss the train?
  9. Where is the check-in?
  10. What do I have to bring with me?
  11. Where could I get the ESNtrain Book?
  12. Do we have to leave the train during the day?
  13. Could we enter the train during the day?
  14. Are parties in the sleeping wagons allowed?
  15. Could we bring our own drinks on board?
  16. Is catering on board?
  17. What could I do for the project?
  18. Is there electricity in the train?

ESN Section Questions

  1. Why should we participate?
  2. What can my section do?
  3. What is expected from the sections?
  4. What is the ESNtrain Online Guide?
  5. How many persons are coming?
  6. What can my section do, if the train does not come to my town/country?
  7. How do the participants sign up for activities?
  8. How can the activities be financed?
  9. Do we get ESNtrain tickets for our helpers?
  10. Can we bring our exchange students for a trip?
  11. What promotion material is available and where can we get it?

Booking information

Questions & Answers

General Questions:

What is ESNtrain? Top

The ESNtrain is Europe’s longest communication platform. It is about 500 meters long and includes 13-16 wagons with up to 700 beds,  the communication centre (exhibition-, film-, music- and bar wagons) as well as special wagons like the salon Z.

Who stands behind the project? Top

ESNtrain springs from the idea and will of a group of young people, mostly students, living in Switzerland. Therefore, it is not bound nor linked to any body, be it of political or any other purpose. However, the Erasmus Student Network ESN made ESNtrain to its main event of its 20th anniversary celebrations in 2009. Besides, ESNtrain is under the patronage of well-known personalities. 

How did the ESNtrain project start? Top

Once on an ESN event the idea came up to make a trip to several cities by appending an extra wagon to different night trains what was not possible. That was when the idea of an own whole train was born - The ESNtrain.

When is the ESNtrain in ... ? Top

The schedule of ESNtrain can be found on
The route and days are now fixed but please note that arrival times can still vary by a few hours. Track information are not known at the moment; we should receive them in maximum 48h before and will provide them then to you.

Why don't you stay longer in ...? Top

The train schedule is tight in order to reach many countries and sites. Also, the train confronts the railway officials with almost insurmountable schedule problems through-out its 12,000 km journey. Why not taking this time a good look at the manifold venues and to spend more time at a later stage?

Are there not too many different railway systems in Europe? Top

Yes, that’s quite a problem. But we have been working on this for more than 2 years and have now solved the problems! It will be the first time in Europe that such a train will move. One big challenge and also a highlight of the trip will be the ferry crossing from Germany to Sweden, where the train is transported by boat.

Who is supporting and financing the project? Top

One third of the total costs is financed by the passengers and train visitors. Two thirds by sponsoring and donations as well by a lot of goodwill on the part of the railway companies. Although the train will roll, further sponsors and donators are warmly invited to join.

It was cancelled in 2007 - why should it work now? Top

There were problems with the IT-development of the unique registration procedure. Mainly for that reason, the project had to be postponed. Fares already paid were refunded.

What stands SEPA for? Top

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) will allow customers to make non-cash euro payments to any beneficiary located anywhere in the euro area using a single bank account and a single set of payment instruments. All retail payments in euro will thereby become “domestic”. There will no longer be any differentiation between national and cross border payments within the euro area. Please visit for more details.
The SEPA is defined as the members of the EU plus the EEA plus Switzerland. Each bank decides to participate in this system or not; the bank also decide about the time of the entry.
Even a bank supports SEPA, you have to ask them to use SEPA – Often they do a standard international payment for covering some fees.
To make a SEPA payment for the ESNtrain project, the following points must be taken into account:

  • Your home bank must support SEPA; ask them directly.
  • If your home bank does not support SEPA, ask them about the transfer costs. Maybe another bank would be cheaper (or a friend of you has an account with SEPA)
  • Enter the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of the recipient
  • Enter the full address of the recipient (according to the payment mail)
  • Enter the Bank Identifier Code (BIC/SWIFT) of the recipient’s bank
  • Enter the full address of the bank (according to the payment mail)
  • Currency of Payment must be Euro (EUR) whereas the payer’s account don’t have to be an EUR one
  • The payer’s account must be a Funds Transfer Account. Deposit accounts aren’t allowed
  • Fee arrangement must be “SHA” (sharing of the [not existing] fee)
  • No option “express” -> SEPA payments are paid within 3 days
  • No instructions at your home bank

Participant Questions

Who can participate? Top

It is open for everybody older than 18 – also outside of the Erasmus Student Network and outside of Europe. You just have to be interested in the intercultural dialogue. It’s a communication platform. We welcome everybody who understands what respect and tolerance means! People who are willing helping us on train are also welcome.

Booking through internet is possible until 30 hours before the corresponding departure.

What can I expect from ESNtrain? Top

You will meet people from all over the world; more than 60 nations are on board. You will have time to talk to them, to discuss different kinds of topics, to get new impressions. Be careful - it could change your life! But everything depends on you - there is no must at that trip, everything is possible and you don’t have to take part at anything. ESNtrain is either a 24 hour program – you are a part of the project and you are invited to provide us for a good mood on board.

Where can I board/leave the train? Top

See the ESNtrain schedule on
The modular booking system allows that you can hop on/off at every station. You can book 1, 2,... nights or 1, 2,... weeks – as you like. But please note that the train schedule published on the website may still vary by a few hours.
The ESNtrain is a special train. It drives just once in 2009. The route could be found on

Where can I sleep, eat, shower and charge my mobile during the trip? Top

Your ticket includes the train trip and a bed, usually in 6-bed cabins (you can also book 3-bed cabins but it’s double price for double space). Meals and showers are often organized by the local ESN sections and sometimes sponsored by universities, institutions and companies. There are also washing facilities on the train.
All the information about meals, activities, showers, internet points, laundry places will be written in the ESNtrain Guide and the handouts you receive in the train. Furthermore there is an Info Point in each city with locals and ESNtrain helpers to answer all your questions.

How do I sign up for activities? Top

Most of the activities are listed in the ESNtrain Online Guide on If registration and payment is required, this will be stated there, together with a link to the registration page of the organizing section.

Do I need visa for the trip? Top

This is in the responsibility of the participants. Please make sure that you have the necessary documents for all the countries you book.
For registrations after March 16th we are not longer able to support you with the Letter of Invitation.
The Schengen Agreement makes things easier, you need only one Visa to enter all Schengen countries. Most of the 18 ESNtrain countries are part of Schengen. The only exception is Croatia. Liechtenstein has some special deal because of the entry of Switzerland in 2008 ( and Norway is also part of the Schengen Area.
In 2008 Switzerland became an associated member of the Schengen treaty. The only Schengen external borders now are the airports which will be Schengen conform on March 29th 2009. The VISA politics for short residences are now standardised for Switzerland and Liechtenstein with the Schengen Visa. You still need a valid passport or ID if you cross the border. There are still inventory controls on the Swiss border!
You have to write to the embassy of the country selected by the following order:
  • Which Schengen country is the (main) travel destination?
  • In which Schengen country is the main travel target?
  • In which Schengen country do you stay the longest time?
  • Which is the first Schengen country you enter?
To increase the chance of a VISA you should have the following documents (if VISA country is Switzerland, please have a look at the Swiss Application Form):
  • Valid Passport
  • Proof of Funds / Money (e.g. CHF 100 per day for Switzerland)
  • Invitation for the Event (in case you registered before March 17th)
  • Means of Transportation
  • Health Insurance
If Switzerland: Question 34 from the Swiss Application Form (Host Company):
platform GmbH
Neuhofstrasse 30
CH-8708 Männedorf
If Switzerland: Question 35 from the Swiss Application Form (Paying of Costs):

Do I have to bring my sleeping bag? Top

No, the ESNtrain ticket includes bed and bed-linen.

What if I miss the train? Top

Then you can take the regular train to the next city and catch up with ESNtrain at your own expenses. Please understand that the train cannot wait for delayed persons. Your bed remains reserved for you, even if you are not on board.

Where is the check-in? Top

Check-In could be found in the ESNtrain (in the middle wagons; just follow the signs we install during our long stops). There you will get your Access Card (Ticket). In case you booked a bed on board you furthermore will get the ESNtrain Guidebook, the bed-linen and the ESNtrain T-Shirt).

BERLIN: As there are several hundred people coming on board, the check-in is situated in the town’s InfoPoint. Please come in time as we have to handle 300 checks-ins. Berlin’s Handout could be found on

What do I have to bring with me? Top

For the check-in wee need a valid passport/ID as well as your PaymentID. You are responsible having the necessary VISA documents with you.
Sewing bag, towel and trunks as well as money for the food during the day are essential. Also check out the local currency as well as the temperatures of the visited countries (clothes).

Where could I get the ESNtrain Book? Top

The ESNtrain Book is made during the journey by some professional authors and photographs. In the train you have the possibility to order the book for a special price by cash payment. The book will be delivered in September 2009 to your written address.
If you work 15 hours you could get the book for free instead of the drink vouchers (in case you registered until March 16th).

Do we have to leave the train during the day? Top

Yes, you have to leave the train at the morning when we come to the main stops without any exception. There is no possibility to sleep during the day in the train.

Could we enter the train during the day? Top

No, there is no possibility to enter the train during the day. The train won’t be at the station after passengers get out.

Are parties in the sleeping wagons allowed? Top

Room Parties are just in the bedtime “late” wagons allowed as long as there is no damage to property and no aggressively against other passengers – Longest the security calls to be quiet because of late time or the behaviour of the passengers.

Could we bring our own drinks on board? Top

Every passenger is allowed to bring in total 2 litres beverage in PET bottles on board. This could be a 2 litre bottle or some smaller units. Other bottles than PET (e.g. glass or aluminium) aren’t allowed.
Because there is no drinkable water on board, we suggest bringing 1 litre water for dental hygiene.
It’s not allowed to bring your own drinks to the communication platform wagons.

Is catering on board? Top

There is NO restaurant car with us; it’s NOT possible to eat in the ESNtrain.
There are several bars in the train where you could buy some drinks (non-alcoholics like water or coke as well as alcoholic ones like beer or spirits) for a good price.

What could I do for the project? Top

You as passengers are the pillar of the ESNtrain project. ESNtrain is not a 24h program organised by some professionals but a communication platform where everybody could help if needed. The better your mode the better the ESNtrain spirit during the ride!

Is there electricity in the train? Top

In general, there are NO outlets in the compartments; therefore you won’t be able to charge your laptop, mobile, iPod, … during the night (please use the infopoint in the visited towns for charging).
Outlets for razors are available in the lavatory. 

ESN Section Questions:

Why should we participate? Top

The project lives from the activities organized by the ESN Sections be it on the train itself or at the stops! A rich and diverse bunch of activities during the trip will contribute substantially to the ESNtrains’s mission and success.
Pallomeri rocks!

What can my section do? Top

We hope to be able to present a long, diverse list of such activities to the participants. As you know your town best, you can come up with the best plans. Here a few ideas:
- Guided city or company tour
- Museum tour
- Cultural evening, local meal
- Breakfast, Lunch bags
- Dance lessons
- Concert
- Bathing
- Hiking tour
- Excursion (hike to viewpoint, UNESCO site, salt mines...)
- Sport activities
- Language course
Talk to the responsible person from ESNtrain about your ideas!

What is expected from the sections? Top

A few things are necessary at each stop to cover the basic needs of the participants. We hope that you help us providing the following service:
  • Info Point in your city: This is a designated place serving as a meeting and help point. Helpers from the local section and from ESNtrain are there to answer questions and resolve problems during the stop. This could be a café, the foyer of a hostel, the tourist information, university or similar. Preferably close to the station where ESNtrain stops. We expect that people will use this place to regroup, to have a break from sight-seeing or just to take a coffee and chat. A service to charge mobiles might also be of great help to the participants and could be offered at the Info Point.
  • Info Point on train: There is also an Info Point on board of the train. The evening and night before arriving to a new town, locals present the program, answer questions and take registrations for activities. We therefore suggest that you send two persons from your section to the town where ESNtrain stops before arriving in yours. These persons can then run the on-train Info Point.
  • ESNtrain Guidebook: There will be a book serving as a guide for the over 40 stops. We ask you to provide the information about your town. It will consist of a map, a few pictures, descriptions of sights, hints and recommendations, cheap meals, shower possibilities, internet access points,...
  • Showers: There are washing facilities on the train, but no showers. At least every second/third day, showering will be organized for everybody, combined with activities as bathing or sports. On the other days without official showering, we need information about where showers can be used (at university, hostel, public swimming pool,…) and write it into the ESNtrain Guide.
  • For people starting or ending their trip in your town: A recommendation for a cheap hostel and instructions for how to get to the airport. It is also possible to organise activities for these people (pre/after-program). After booking we will let you know how many persons start/end their trip at your stop.

What is the ESNtrain Online Guide? Top

The ESNtrain Online Guide is an online database for collecting all the information about activities, maps, pictures, descriptions, etc. Country Responsibles have a log-in to upload the activities. This information is available online for the participants and will be compiled to the ESNtrain Guide that every participant receives in book form.

How many persons are coming? Top

ESNtrain has 420 public beds in the 6-berth compartments and a maximum capacity of about 1,200 participants. The train will move 25 days – so about 20,000 people-daytrips will be possible. It is not necessary, however, that all activities are organised for the entire train. People will just discover the cities on their own, following the recommendations you give in the ESNtrain Guidebook.
One strategy to cope with the mass of participants is to repeat your activity several times within the day. If you offer a guided tour every hour, you can divide the number of participants. Same for other activities like showering. If you ask a hostel to let us use their 20 showers during a day, that is probably enough.
The number of participants for an activity can be controlled if you require signing-up, and a small fee might already cover your expenses.

What can my section do, if the train does not come to my town/country? Top

We welcome contributions from all countries participating. Possibilities are:

  • Organising an activity on the train. It will take place on one of the specially equipped wagons. You might want to organize a country evening, dance class, language course, movie night, etc. Just tell us your ideas so that we allocate a time-slot and fix the detailed program. The activities can take place while the train is open to the public before departure or while it is running. Organising an activity in any of the towns visited, in coordination with the local section.
  • Organising an alternative program for a specific part of the train’s route. Participants can get off and join your activity while the train goes on to the next place.
  • Organising pre-/post-activities and so on and so forth.

How do the participants sign up for activities? Top

It is often useful to require registration for your activities. This is the case if you have a limited number of places or costs to be covered.
Put a link leading to your own registration system into the ESNtrain Online Guide database, together with all the information on the activity. This way, you have the full control over the registration process. You can also require payments to your section’s bank account. Small fees prevent people from not showing up and occupying places without using them. With the SEPA money transfer system, small money transfers in Euros are free of charge.
You can also allow participants to sign up for your activities at the Info Point (both on the train and in your town).

How can the activities be financed? Top

Unfortunately, we can only give very limited financial support from ESNtrain budget.
As the project has good publicity and is so unique and inter-cultural, it might be possible to find sponsors for activities. Ask people from the university, city government and enterprises, if they would like to take the opportunity and participate with some activity or offer. Maybe they sponsor a local dish for everybody or let us use their showers. Just make sure that you present the project as a European Communication Platform rather than as a party train.
The activities you are organizing in your section do not need to be for free. There can be a little fee having the positive side-effect that the participant who signed up will also be coming!
Use the ESNtrain communication booklet to approach potential sponsors. You can find it here:

Do we get ESNtrain tickets for our helpers? Top

Helpers that are on the train for the on-train Info Point or are responsible for some on-train activity don’t need to buy a ticket for this night. However, only a limited number of beds are available for such helpers, as paying participants have priority. Please understand that we can not give free tickets to every helping section. We encourage you to find sponsors for your activities that do also cover the expenses of the helpers.

Can we bring our exchange students for a trip? Top

Yes, of course! It’s a really good and easy possibility for your section to take your exchange students on the ESNtrain. You only have to organize the trip to or back from the ESNtrain – the rest is already organized. Let us know if you plan such a project!
For example: you can take 30 students on ESNtrain for two nights and then spend one night in that city (where you can maybe again arrange something with the local section). Or you might just want to take ESNtrain through the day. Ask us for a special group fare (as you don’t spend the night on the train). Please ask early and we will try to accommodate all your wishes!

What promotion material is available and where can we get it? Top

We currently have flyers, posters, communication folders and stickers. Let your country coordinator know what you need – Available until March 20th. There will also be some material at the AGM in Utrecht.

Booking information:

Who can Book? Top

Everybody from the age of 18 can participate in this project and therefore make the booking. Participation is neither limited to students, nor to a specific age group. However, the train serves as communication platform and all passengers are interested in the ongoing intercultural dialogue.
Booking through internet is open until 30 hours before the corresponding departure.

Personal Account Top

Booking starts with entering your data to the booking system. All bookings are personal (identity will be checked when entering the train) and each participant has to register in our database. You will be asked for information about your person (e.g. name, address, nationality, t-shirt size, food preferences). Furthermore you will be confronted with the ESNtrain General Terms and Conditions.
After creating your account, you get a personal confirmation email and a log-in, such that you can check your booking status.

Choosing your Trip Top

As soon as you have an account, you can book any stations along the ESNtrain’s route as place of departure and place of arrival (timetable), in case the trip isn’t booked out. The prices communicated are by booking one trip from A to C (or several, not corresponding trips). In case you book a trip from A to B and then a second one from B to C it could be that you would have to pay more.
Note that the schedule can still change by a few hours because of the international railway network. Please calculate some gap between your flight / connecting train and our train.
After choosing your trip, you will see its booking status. A trip can be ‘requested’ or ‘confirmed’ (“due-date” / “booked”).

Multiple Trips Top

You can book several trips from your account. This makes sense for example if you plan a longer stop in one city and get back on ESNtrain later.
If you book several trips on the same account, the one-time fee of 20 Euros will be charged only once. It is possible, however, that one of your multiple trips is confirmed while the other is still requested. In this case you have to pay each trip as soon as it gets confirmed, which might lead to more than one payment.
If you book a corresponding multiple trip (from A to B and from B to C) it could be that you would have to pay more as by booking just one trip (from A to C).

Group Requests Top

Group requests are not longer possible.

Compartment Size Top

There are 6-berth and 3-berth compartments. 3-berth compartments offer double space in the compartment for double price.
At booking, you will be asked to give your expected going-to-bed time (choices: early/average/late). This has the purpose of avoiding noise-complaints. We will try to group the beds accordingly. Room Parties are just allowed in the category “late”.

Ticket Prices Top

The price depends on the number of trips you book and the number of nights you spend on the train. What station you choose to get on/off within the same day is not relevant for the price, as long as it is within the same trip. If you book several trips at the same day or subsequent trips it could be that you are covered with the day and the night price you would have to pay. Final price to pay stands after you entered the trip(s).  

Price within the same trip (from March 17th on):

  • 6-bed compartments:
    • The ticket price is 30 Euros per night plus 20 Euros one-time fee plus 10 Euros lump sum for PayPal transaction.
    • Buying night-tickets in cash in the train there is no PayPal Lump sum but an additional cash-pay-fee of 15 EUR to cover the higher administrative work.
  • 3-bed compartments:
    • The ticket price is 60 Euros per night plus 20 Euros one-time fee plus 10 Euros lump sum for PayPal transaction.
    • Buying night-tickets in cash in the train there is no PayPal Lump sum but an additional cash-pay-fee of 15 EUR to cover the higher administrative work.
  • Day ticket:
    • The ticket price is 10 Euros plus 20 Euros one-time fee plus 10 Euros lump sum for PayPal transaction. No compartment place, no breakfast and limited place for luggage.

This includes the trip, the bed, the bed-linen, a light breakfast plus the welcome package.  Showering is mainly organised by the ESN sections and will be free of charge, when ever sponsoring is possible. If not, information on food, showering facilities and internet access will be given in the ESNtrain Guidebook or in a separate flyer.
If you plan a day-trip with your ESN section or a group of exchange students, contact us regarding the fare applicable.  
The 20 Euros one-time fee covers the administrative costs and is independent of the length of your trip. However, you will get in return the ESNtrain Guidebook, bed linen and even more. The fee has to be paid only once, even if you participate several times in the journey. Please note, that the one-time fee is not refundable.
The 10 EUR lump sum for PayPal payments as well as the 15 EUR for cash-payments covers the additional costs we have by such payments.

Booking Status Top

After booking a trip, its status is “requested”. In case there will be a free place, this status is set to “due date” (checked every 30 minutes).
As long as your status is “requested”, you are NOT in. Whenever possible, please book then another trip to join us.
As soon as your status is “due date”, you will receive an e-mail with the payment instructions. Please make the payment rapidly within 24 hours by PayPal. As soon as we receive the full amount of your payment, the status of your trip is set to “booked” and you will receive an e-mail of confirmation; from this moment on you are definitely in.
All these e-mails are sent automatically at midnight.

Bed Assignment Top

(bookable until March 16th) and early/average/late sleepers.
You don't have to stay in exactly the same trip to be in the same group as your friend.
We cannot guarantee that people can stay in the same bed all over their
entire trip. However, we will try to minimize bed changes.

Payment Top

After receiving the payment e-mail (sent once a day at midnight) the full amount of money must be on our PayPal account within 24 hours (people with a trip, marked as definitive before March 16th have 10 days for paying on our bank account – They received an according mail).
To pay with PayPal, just click on the button “Buy Now” on your profile and follow the instructions on the PayPal site. It’s possible to pay by credit card (MasterCard & VISA) as well as with EC and through your PayPal Account.
Please understand that we will have to give your bed to the next person if we don’t receive the money in time.

In case your booked trip was confirmed as definitive until March 16th:
You now have the possibility to pay by bank transfer as before or to use PayPal – In case you use PayPal, you also would have to pay the additional 10 EUR for the transaction fee.

If you pay by bank transfer, please

  • Don’t forget to copy your registration code into the payment purpose field.
  • Please make the payment per person!
The SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) system allows paying quickly and without charges. Pick a bank that supports SEPA. Please ask your bank if they support SEPA. If not, you could ask a friend with a SEPA account making the payment for you or you would have to pay the whole transfer fee (Fee Arrangement must be "sender pays all fees"). It’s important that the full amount receives our account.
If your bank does not support SEPA, ask them about the transaction fees! Maybe another bank would be cheaper (fees ranges from 0 Euros about 4 Euros up to 100 Euros).

The payment is also possible in Swiss Franks, as the bank is in Zurich. However, SEPA only works for payments in Euros. The prices in Swiss Franks are (if you book several trips per day or subsequent trips the day and the night costs could be added): 49.50 CHF per night in 6-bed compartment, 99 CHF per night in 3-bed compartment, 33 CHF for the one-time fee, 16.50 CHF for a day-trip without night.
Please pay Euro to our EUR account and Swiss Francs to our CHF account; don’t mix them because of currency differences.

Changing your Booking Top

Changing the user date is not longer possible as the tickets are produced.

Booking Contact Top

We gladly assist you regarding the booking process. In case of any question please contact us on This applies as well to special questions as e.g. group travels or exchange students.

Please note: from March 25th on we just have a limited access to Internet as we will be on tour. The responding time could be longer as usual.