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There's such thing as "a daytime train" - a train which runs all the route during daytime. Some of them run really long routes - 500-700 kilometers - and a train spends 6-8 hours en route to run such distances.

A typical example is a train departing at 16:00 and arriving at 23:40 - which means most of the day is wasted. Or it may depart at 12:00 and arrive at 19:40 - the whole day is wasted. I cannot see why I would use such a train instead of an overnight train which departs at 22:00 and arrives 06:00-08:00 the next day - sleeping on a train is not the best experience one gets but it's quite possible.

Of course there're cases when an "overday" train is the only available option so I'm only asking about cases where both overnight and "overday" trains are available for the same route with comparable time en route.

What's the use of those "overday" trains which make the passenger waste a whole day en route?

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Overnight trains are not available everywhere. Besides, not everybody takes trains for leisure. – fkraiem Mar 28 at 8:00
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They are much cheaper and more comfortable than going by plane. With constant access to wifi, power, bathrooms and a cafeteria, they are borderline offices with a view. – Pål GD Mar 28 at 9:34
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I often do six-hour train journeys. If I'm done with business by 5 PM, I can be home well before midnight and get good sleep in my own bed and be well rested for the next day. During the journey I can work or relax reading. A night train would be much less comfortable than my own bed and I would need to spend four hours somewhere in a random city. That's wasted time. Flights would save two hours but are much more stressful on most routes. – neo Mar 28 at 11:00
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This question depends on your perspective. I enjoy train journeys. They allow me to peacefully do my work (laptop / reading) with little distraction. Sleeper trains are uncomfortable compared to a decent hotel and will probably result in poor quality sleep and being tired the next day. So from my point of view, the question is reversed - why would you want to use a night train? This applies whether I'm working or travelling for leisure. A leisure trip isn't 100% about the destination. An unpleasant night journey is a great way to reduce the overall enjoyment of a holiday IMO. – JBentley Mar 28 at 13:16
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In Europe, people get on and off these trains all the time but rarely anyone goes all the way from the beginning to the end. My wife took the Paris-Warsaw on a regular basis, but she was just travelling between Hanover and Bochum, which is a much shorter haul. It just happened to be part of the Paris-Warsaw trek – Hilmar Mar 28 at 13:57

You can enjoy the view

Tourists who are visiting a country for the first time may enjoy watching the city/country go by. My husband and I enjoy often choose to take the train while travelling for this reason. It's an easy, cheap, relaxing way to view the country you're visiting, especially the chance to gain a snapshot of locals going on with their lives in the countryside.

You can be productive

There is freedom of movement on a train and access to useful facilities: wifi, food, bathroom access, and cellphone reception. One may do some work, or read, or spend time with family. Trains are a much less stressful mode of travel for families with small kids, and this becomes a chance to play games and have family time while on holiday. I often used to play chess with my family while we travelled by train.

You pay less

Overnight trips are more expensive. It's cheaper to book a seat than a bunk. Seats use less space, so more can be fit onto a train.

Overnight is not always an option

Many routes only run during the day. It's more expensive for a company to pay people to work overnight. Locals will be using the trains during the day, but only long distance travellers will at night. If the train makes several stops along the way, then stopping at night becomes impractical.

Overnight is not always comfortable (Thanks @Zach Lipton)

Some people find it difficult to sleep in an unfamiliar bed or on a train bunk (or worse, in a seat!). It may not offer the quality of sleep one is used to. Especially if a person is easily awoken and disturbed by the movement of the train.

For some, it's not time wasted

To a person who is only concerned with the destination, overnight travel would seem more practical than daytime travel, but for many tourists or other people who choose to use the train, it's as much about enjoying the journey as it is about the destination.

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You pay less? I heard the opposite but didn't verify. I wouldn't buy a bunk. I can sleep in the seat, though admittedly not well. And on my last two train trips, I did not have cell phone most of the way. – WGroleau Mar 28 at 13:53
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A large number of travelers don't want to sleep in a train seat overnight and would rather fly if those are the only two options. Most people do not feel well rested after trying to sleep in a seat all night, so they lose more time the next day when they feel the need to sleep or nap. – Zach Lipton Mar 28 at 21:28
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Often, there are only few seats available on night trains and they are sold out quickly. – TheEspinosa Mar 30 at 8:19
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@WGroleau - it very much depends on the country and various other factors. In some places the train is much cheaper, in others it's comparable. Sometimes it even varies day to day which is cheaper! – Jon Story Mar 30 at 15:15

While you go the six hour distance, most long distance trains have people getting on and off at all stations it stops. With day time trains that is well possible, with overnight trains those stops will fall at odd times of the night.

And your six hour journey may well be part of a much longer train travel, with the train arriving two days later in its final stop. In that case the total travel will be part day and part overnight.

For Europe, most of the long distance trains do run by day, only very few run overnight and very rarely a train runs for more than 24 hours. And those get more rare still.
In Australia, Canada and the USA you find fewer trains per day on the lines but more often they do run for much longer stretches, going for more than one night and often just one train departure each 24 hours or even per 48 hours.
In those areas you mostly do not have choice, there are often just day trains or just night trains, with some rare occasions where there are both day and night trains.

I love train travel and will often take a train instead of a flight to go to far away places and see something of the area you pass through.
When they were still available I did sometimes take the night train to Paris so I could arrive at my final destination in France in daylight. On the way home I was always happy to spend all day on the train so I got home that same day.
Night travel is not comfortable, often requiers booking far in advance and is often more expensive.
Most people do prefer to sleep in their own beds over sleeping in a night train to arrive home early in the morning. Getting a bed in the train is not too bad, sitting up in a chair the day before you have to do work or sight seeing is not everybodies choice.

In Europe with the coming of the fast trains overnight trains are disappearing. And I can understand why. The overnight train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen left at 19:00, so 7 PM, to arrive at 11:30 the next day.
For tourists on the move that would mean that they would need to catch the train after an early dinner, there not being a full dinner service on the train, and still lose most of the day in Copenhagen on arrival. The stops in Germany would all be in the night, so almost no travelers for Germany would take the train, there being day trains as well.

For more information on train travel, almost everywhere in the world, you can have a look at the Site of the Man in Seat Sixty-One.

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"In those areas you mostly do not have choice" Sure you do. It's called an airplane or a car (or, if you really must, a bus.) This is why there are only a few departures per week on those long-distance train routes. Most people just fly when traveling long distances in the USA or Canada, as most people don't want to spend 2-3 days getting to their destination and 2-3 days more getting back. And, even the ones who do want to do that usually just drive. There aren't enough passengers wanting to use the trains per unit area for multiple trains to run per day. – reirab Mar 29 at 21:00
    
I meant no choice for an other train, but point taken. Not everybody will wait for the next train and I am an expection not driving at all. – Willeke Mar 30 at 15:01

Tourism? I LOVE travelling by train, and do so when I have time available - you get to see so much during the day!

Also, we can't run all trains at night, some schedules connect with others, or you have more people who can only travel during the day (shift work), some don't like sleeping on a train at night - many, many reasons.

Also, if a train takes 6 hours to get somewhere, if it goes back immediately, you can get 3-4 runs in during a 24 hour period. If you have to run them all at night, firstly, you reduce the available services, and secondly, might sell out that service every time, while you could have been getting money during the day as well.

Also some countries require you pay more for night workers, and unions have various rules about night time work, councils have noise laws about trains running through certain areas at night, and so on.

Long story short - there are many good reasons, and you should really try a long day time trip - it's fun!

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Do you know there're Siemens Desiro trains with seats such that passenger's knees face the opposite passenger' knees and spending 5,5 hours en route? – sharptooth Mar 30 at 6:43
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@sharptooth I've done far longer trips than that like that. Worth it. – Mark Mayo Mar 30 at 8:22
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@sharptooth Most trains I know are like that. I feels actually more spacious than facing a fabric wall (the back of the chair in front of you). – LisaMM Mar 30 at 9:40
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@LisaMM I cannot agree on this - with knees facing back of the next chair you have some guaranteed leg space and can extend your legs under the next chair. With knees facing knees that's hardly possible. I tried both options in Siemens Desiro, the first one is much, much more comfortable. – sharptooth Mar 30 at 12:21
    
I do prefer to see people opposite rather than fabric, but most of all, I want to travel with my back facing the direction of traveling, which is almost always possible when knees face knees. But in 'lets all face forward' US, Canadian and Australian trains it was hard to impossible. – Willeke Apr 1 at 15:40

I have traveled to over 100 european cities and i find traveling in Overday time, always refreshing. These are my advantages when traveling about 5-6 hours in daytime.

Hotel check-in at 2 PM

Most hotels have check-in time at 1400 and checkout time at 1200. So i start early morning by train 8 AM (or even early) will correctly reach in time to check in (dont have to wait in hotels to check-in)

Beautiful countryside views

You can enjoy most beautiful countryside views only in broad day light.

Safety

I felt so much safe traveling in broad daylight in a new country, new place, new people, rather than at night. I have been hearing that so many burglaries happen at night in buses or trains when people are asleep.

Passport control

When crossing borders by train or bus, at nights, passport checks are done and officers usually bang at door, wake you up in the middle of night. This essentially kills your sleep.

Friendly pals

You have chance to meet nice friends in trains or bus and have nice conversation with people nearby in day time, during travel. Certainly not at night.

Stranded

If you happen to miss your late night train or bus, you are stranded. This is not the problem when traveling at daytime. You will have several alternatives.

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Very nice answer, only one +1 but I feel you should get a few from me for all the good points you mention. – Willeke Mar 30 at 16:23
    
Thank you Willeke much appreciated. I am sharing all the good things out of my travel. Hope it helps the community. :J – pbu Mar 30 at 21:49

Depending on where you come from and where you want to go, flying could be much less practical. Many train stations are in the city centres, airports are outside. So the choice may be this:

  • One hour to the airport, one hour or more checking in, hassle with security checks, boarding, then one or two hours of flight, collect the baggage, another hour to the destination.
  • Half an hour to the train station, arrive with just a few minutes to spare, several hours of train ride, then half an hour to the destination.

If there is no direct connection and you have to switch planes/trains, the aircraft look even worse. I'd probably choose the trains even if the total is one or two hours longer, simply to avoid the aggravation of the airport. I can read a good book in a train seat, but not in a line in the airport.

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Things are also improving with the implementation of fast trains: Paris to London is now faster than taking a flight. – JonathanReez Mar 28 at 9:20
    
@JonathanReez Granted, Paris to London is a relatively short distance. – reirab Mar 29 at 21:26
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@JonathanReez, I'm actually surprised they offer flights over that short a distance. Where I'm from, the only way to fly such a short way is to go through a further-off airport and transfer. – Joe Mar 29 at 21:55
    
@Joe - there's the small matter of the sea being in the way though - there's no option to "just drive it". Although your profile tags you as being from California, and I've been on (and seen many more) sub-1-hour flights in the US. – CMaster Mar 30 at 9:52
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@CMaster you can't "just drive it", but you can get there with your car via Eurotunnel. – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 30 at 15:32

In the UK we have “cross country” trains, these often take most of a day to get from one end to the other. However most passengers only spend a few hours on the trains, as they get on and off at intermediate stops. It is common to find a faster train if you do wish to go “end to end”, that is a direct intercity.

Before I will consider flying a train will have to take at least 4 hours more than the plane, due to time to get to/from the airport, check in time, luggage processing time, risk of problems and the airports not being very nice taking my drinks from me etc. I also get more legroom on the train, and don’t have to sit in an airport for 1hr or so on a uncomfortable seat.

Just not having the risk of a £50 fine, if I don't pre-book enough checkin luggage, or wasted money if I book too much makes the train a lot lower stress option. The last flight I took, I got prodded in the back many times by the person behind me, I have never had this happen on a train.

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In addition to what has been said so far:

Some people might not feel secure sleeping in a train. They might be scared of someone climbing in at a stop and going out with their bag immediately or at the next stop (even though night trains typically have less stops than daytime trains). During daytime you would notice if anyone took your bag. Same for suitcases, many people put their suitcases at a place where they can see it even if it is 10 or 20 meters away.

It can also be imagined that harassment is more frequent or unnoticed at night than during daytime.

I personally like overnight trains, but what I can easily imagine that many people feel that way.

Also, a senior citizen might probably prefer the accessibility of a real bed, and might not mind wasting a day even if they don't enjoy train travel.

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Yeap, that's why I hide my jacket under the pillow - no fun getting out of the train in −3 degrees Celsius in some faraway city without a proper jacket. – sharptooth Mar 30 at 13:23

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