Czech private railway operator RegioJet plans to launch a night train service from Prague to Chop via the Černá nad Tisou border crossing in Slovakia in early January 2024.
This was reported by the CFTS portal, citing the publication Rail Journal.
The new trains will be operated on the 37-kilometer standard-gauge railway line running from the border to Chop and further to Mukacheve in Ukraine.
The trains will depart from Prague's main railway station at 21:38 and arrive in Chop at 10:35. On the return journey, they will depart from Chop at 17:30 and arrive in Prague at 05:07.
The train to Chop will initially consist of three cars with a capacity of 140 passengers, including 80 in sleeping cars and 60 in seated cars.
Between Prague and Košice in Slovakia, the train will be conveyed by RegioJet’s daily RegioJet Praha - Košice - Humenné service, with a maximum of 18 cars.
As RegioJet does not have a license to operate in Ukraine, the new service will be operated in conjunction with the Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia), with RegioJet paying track access fees to Ukrzaliznytsia’s infrastructure management department.
RegioJet also plans to connect Ukraine with other Central European capitals by rail from Vienna to Chop via Budapest and the Záhony border crossing in Hungary. In conjunction with Ukrzaliznytsia, a service to Berlin would run via the Przemyśl border crossing in Poland, but this would require further infrastructure investment and preferably the extension of a 1435-mm-gauge line to Lviv in Ukraine.
"Substantial investment is required to accommodate longer trains and handle more passengers at Mostyska II station in Ukraine, doubling capacity at this border crossing which RegioJet sees as the principal gateway to Ukraine and its capital Kyiv," RegioJet said in a statement.
Until then, the Berlin train will run as a night train from Przemyśl to Hanover, with the timetable changing on 10 December.
Radim Jančura, owner, founder, and CEO of RegioJet, said the company is ready to invest in improving Ukraine's railway infrastructure, including the electrification of the 1435-mm-gauge line from Chop to Mukacheve. He also emphasized the need for 1435-mm-gauge tracks on the 22-kilometer line from Chop to Uzhhorod, near the border with Slovakia, which is important for RegioJet to serve Hungary.
RegioJet's investment proposals are currently being considered by Ukrzaliznytsia, but the process of developing the project in Ukraine is slow. The company also emphasized that it will finance the Chop - Uzhhorod project.
RegioJet will not be the only operator of passenger trains on 1435-mm-gauge lines to Ukraine. Slovakia's national operator ZSSK operates a twice-daily service to Chop and Mukacheve, while Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) operates up to eight pairs of trains per day from Záhony to Chop.
RegioJet announced the launch of a train from Košice to Chop in the summer. "We want to extend our existing rail line from Košice to Chop and to Mukacheve in the future. After that, we want to connect our train to Ukrzaliznytsia’s trains and launch services to Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, and other cities in western Ukraine," Jančura said in a recent interview with the CFTS at the time.
He added that since the European-gauge tracks reach as far as Mukacheve, there is a desire to launch a direct night train service train from Prague to Mukacheve, allowing passengers to board a train in Prague in the evening and wake up in Mukacheve.