Our third train, as we head north from Amsterdam to Scandinavia, is poetically named The Borealis. It’s a dedicated sleeper train and is run by City Night Line, which is now owned by Deutsche Bahn. Our route takes us through Utrech, then along the east bank of the Rhine heading south through Arnhem, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Cologne, arriving there at just before 10:30 pm, 45 minutes after sunset.
At Cologne we will cross the magnificent Hohenzollern Bridge, which is reputed to be the busiest railway bridge in Germany (that most likely means in Europe, but I haven’t verified that yet). The railway and station are elevated, and so there is an unobscured view of the spectacular ultra-gothic Kölner Dom cathedral (just one of countless UNESCO sites we will see or travel through on the trip) lit up as shown below as we slide into Cologne station, right next to the cathedral.
We then perform an anti clockwise loop through the city, crossing back over the Rhine again a mile south on the Südbrücke. The train then travels back north up to Dortmund, Hanover (where we dont pick any passengers up but all kinds of shunting goes on as carriages leave and joint to go to/from Moscow, Warsaw and Prague) and then Hamburg, and into Denmark.
We will pass through Rendsburg, abut 100km south of of the Danish border, at just after 5 in the morning, just after sunrise. Here we cross the Kiel Canal and perform one of the (I think 7) 360° loops we will traverse on the trip as we drop from the 42 metre high Rendsburger Hochbrücke bridge over the canal.
We then spend the early morning on a tour of Denmark, travelling up to Kolding and onto the island of Funen and the city of Odense. We then cross the Storebæltsbroen, or Great Belt, through a box bridge to the tiny island of Sprogø, and then a tunnel over to Zealand. There is also a spectacular suspension bridge that carries road traffic on this second, easterly section. The Great Belt Fixed Link is the largest construction project in Danish history and was completed for rail traffic in 1997. During construction of the 5 mile long twin bore tunnels, the sea bed gave way on one of them and both tunnels were eventually flooded, delaying the project by over 3 years. We pull into Copenhagen at just past 10 in the morning.
Here’s a promo video for City Night Line