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Night train etiquette

I was in Europe in 2002, and this question has haunted me ever since. :-)

I made a last-minute booking of a train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, by way of Maastricht, Liege-Guillemins, and Hamburg. (Crummy route, but that's the best I could get.)

The leg from Liege-Guillemins to Hamburg lasted from 00:52 until 06:52. I had a 2nd-class ticket, and there were no sleepers or couchettes available for rental. When I got on the train, I found that the 2nd class cars consisted of 4 or so compartments per car (each compartment had a non-locking door and a pair of benches that faced each other, so each compartment could fit 6 passengers).

To my dismay, most of these compartments were rather full of sleeping travelers. Some sleeping 'vertically', some lying across more than one seat. Here's my etiquette question: Is it polite/Is it expected that I would 'barge in' on a compartment like this, at 01:00? Is it polite/Is it expected that I would wake up a sleeping person and ask them to sit up so that I could have the seat next to them?

(I lucked out and found a compartment with only two people in it, including a friendly Canadian who waved me in, but I don't know what I would have done had I not!)

Posted by
223 posts

I think that had the Canadian not waved you in - and if you couldn't find any other seat, it would have been very appropriate to gently wake a sleeping person so that you could have a seat.

Posted by
7174 posts

Why not just tell the conductor your situation and that some people are taking two seats...let the conductor be the bad guy.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the feedback!
I agree that finding a conductor would have been helpful -- but I searched in vain for one, and none could be found.

Posted by
342 posts

Be an adult and have the person who's paid to do these things, do these things.

Posted by
1568 posts

I agree with Tim..let the conductor find you a seat.