FAQ

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Available Facilities

  • Luggage

    The luggage compartments for every cabin are limited, so there is place for only one backpack or comparable kind of luggage in the cabins per person. Maximum 75L (liters) per person. You can bring your musical instrument or some other equipment if you like, but keep in mind that more people might do the same. It would be a pity if other people in your cabin can’t put their luggage somewhere because you needed to bring along your drum-kit ;). Be thoughtful and considerate towards your cabin mates and coordinate with others on what you should bring and what not.

    If you have something large or heavy that you would like to bring along because you think it might be fun, please consult the organization to see what is possible!

  • Is laundry possible on board?

    Laundry is restricted to basic hand wash only. Passengers can use the sinks in the wagons to wash some socks or a t-shirt that got dirty and they want to wash for that night, but there is not enough water for extensive use. So, be careful to leave some water for others! If you want to do extensive laundry, you will have to wait until we get to a city where we will stay at least 8 hours, so you can find a CouchSurfer or laundry facility where you can wash your cloths. We expect that there will be initiatives from the community to cope with this though, no worries.

  • How good are the washing facilities?

    All couchette wagons have some sinks where basic hygiene is possible. Showers are not possible, however with a washing cloth and some soap you can get very creative ;). Most wagons will have 2 or 3 separate sinks and an extra in the 2 toilets.

    There will be a water tank on the roof of the train, There will be enough for about 6 – 8 hours with normal use. There is one tank per couchette wagon. We will stop several times a day for refilling the tanks.

  • I am disabled, can I come on board?

    It depends on the disability. The train has no facilities at all to handle people in a wheelchair or people who can’t move very well. The wagons are in general old and with a relative difficult and narrow entrance. The connections between wagons, used to move around in the train, are not very wheelchair friendly either. If you need a lot of assistance or need to use a wheelchair for moving around, this journey might not be the best idea for you. However, if you think you only need occasional help from the other passengers or you would like to know the details about the facilities, feel free to contact us.

  • Sleeping facilities

    We provide one bed in a couchette cabin per person. You sleep with 5 others in the same cabin. Bed sheets or pillows will not be provided by us, so you have to take your own sleeping equipment (such as a sleeping bag or comparable) with you for the whole journey.

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Getting involved

  • I can do … ! Do you need …?

    We in fact need pretty much every expertise in this project! Accountants, chefs, guards, designers, fundraisers, word spreaders, strong people, thinkers, doers, ticket booth people… Everybody. So, yes, whatever quality you posses: we will find the perfect spot for you! Don’t be afraid, you can do as little or as much as you like! Just look at the Challenges and see what’s out there you want to pick up, or get in contact with us for custom challenges!

  • I want to help! But how?

    Awesome, of course you can! We actually expected that a little, so we created our Volunteers Network. With it we have a good overwiev of everyone who feels connected to the project and can easily find a perfect spot where you can help and make our project reality. Because we know we can’t do it alone, and we need a lot of help and input from you!

    Here you can make the first step!

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Itinerary & Route

  • What if I am too late to board the train again after we stopped in a city?

    If there is one train you don’t want to miss before departure, it is this one! But, missing the train for departure is of course realistic scenario. We are on a tight schedule during the journey, so we can’t wait too long for everybody to be on time. If you happen to miss the train, it is your own responsibility to catch up and meet us at a later station. If you have entered the train already at one of the four checkpoints, and your ticket is still valid, then we’ll let you in without any problems at the station you join us again :)

  • Why are we not stopping in …?

    The concept of the project is to visit as many European countries as possible in one single train. We have put the greatest effort in researching if we are able to attend every country. However, some countries are inaccessible due to different track widths, safety issues or natural barriers as water.

    As for the stops in the cities: we only have so little time! If we were to visit all the cities we wanted to, we would need two months or even more. We had to make a choice, and these are the choices we made! We can’t really change much anymore to the route since price calculations have already been made for this one.

  • When do we leave and return exactly?

    The departure will be on the 7th of July 2012, and the final arrival date will be 28 days later, on the 4th of August 2012. See for a detailed overview of all the attending cities our Route Map.

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Organisational facts

  • How did it all start?

    In February 2010, on the CouchSurfing forums, by a bunch of people that had a dream to show the world what we are really made of.  A guy named Patrick kick-started the project, but made kind of a mess out of the whole organization. CouchSurfing safety team pulled the plug on that project, but we didn’t want to leave it at that. Coen de Jong, together with Michiel Witkam, E-mailed several people that were active in the old group, to start a new group. That group eventually became the first organizers of The Unity Express.

  • What are the goals of The Unity Express and how do we accomplish them?

    In September 2012 The Unity Express will have shown that the diversity of Europe is it’s greatest strength that inspires us to create a society in which we want to live in. By that time The Unity Express has become an idea that is carried on by a Europe-wide, decentralized network of volunteers and supporters.
    We will connect people from all over the European continent. Not only the ones on board of the The Unity Express, but also with the locals in the cities we pass. The participants on board and in the cities will interact intensively with each other in activities they develop and perform collaboratively.
    In detail it means to:
    • Let participants from the train and the cities communicate, interact and collaborate face-to-face with each other.
    • Conduct a participant driven program with a variety of group activities that stimulates growing understanding, respect and action towards a more united society.
    • Make the Unity Express a mutual symbol for Europe’s diversity as a strength.
    • Capture the experience and all media, projects, products and ideas during the journey and share them with the world under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 open source license to encourage further discussions and open innovation.
    • Create an ongoing network of 1.000 people who carry on The Unity Express project.

  • What is the total cost estimation for The Unity Express in 2012?

    The total budget of The Unity Express in 2012 is €3.400.000. Here is a (simplified) specification of those costs:
    • The train including personnel, fees, insurance & wagon rent costs € 1.000.000
    • Food & drinks (on board only) €250.000
    • Operational funds (compensations for core members, office rent, bank costs) €420.000
    • Promotion (printing/DVD’s/advertisements/t-shirts) €225.000
    • Other costs (risk, overhead, equipment, banking costs, moderators, sub-contractors) €1.505.000
    It might sound a lot, but then again, this is not your average project ;)

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Tickets

  • When can we buy tickets for the journey?

    There are basically 3 ways to get a ticket for the journey: via crowdfunding and starting a project on board, participating in the selection process or by buying one or more week tickets. Please read more about that on the Tickets page.

    When we are going to start selling tickets depends partly on the amount of people that help make the ticket ordering system, and how soon we have everything else in place. Are you a web developer or know one? Come help us out :)

  • Can I bring my kids with me?

    As long as they are over 18, yes, sure you can! Unfortunately, we can not take any person under 18 on the train. This is because every passenger needs to be accountable for his or her own actions, even if supervised by an adult. In addition to that, we have to take precautions for minors if we did in terms of alcohol usage, activities on board, quiet hours in the cabins, security measures and last but not least the social aspect.

  • What will be included in the tickets?

    The Full Event ticket includes:

    • A bed for 28 days (we will try to do this in collaboration with the CouchSurfing community first and try hostels, student campuses and campsites if necessary)
    • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that are served in the train during the validity of the ticket (all other meals when in the cities and other beverages in the train are not included)
    • Access to all activities on board the train (as long as there is room and as far as we can see at this time of writing)

    A one week ticket includes:

    • A bed for 7 days (including a couch when staying overnight in a city)
    • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that are served in the train during the validity of the ticket (all other meals when in the cities and other beverages in the train are not included)
    • Access to all activities on board the train (as long as there is room and as far as we can see at this time of writing)

    Some things to keep in mind for every ticket type

    • Travel to the point of starting your Unity Express experience as well as getting home after finishing your journey will not be included
    • All the travel papers (like passports and visa) you need during the trip are not included and we expect you have taken care of them before you go on board
    • If you miss the train after a stop in a city, it is your own responsibility and at your own costs to join us again later on
    • All personal insurances are at your own costs and we expect you have taken care of them before you go on board

  • Can I go for just a few days?

    To protect the vision, goals and overall experience of the project, we only offer week tickets and full event tickets. We do not offer weekend or day passes, nor do we allow visitors who travel along (except for press and special interest people in certain situations). We understand that some people would like to “sniff” some of the experience, but that’s not what the project is about. We want people to be able to participate in this mini society and fully emerge in other cultures, ideas and participate in the program. You can’t do that when only traveling along for a few days.

    You are of course allowed to hop off the train whenever you want. If you pass your hometown just a day before the end of a week for instance, you are free to go. We’ll miss you though!

  • What types of tickets do you offer?

    We offer two types of tickets: week tickets, valid for 7 days, and a full event ticket, valid for the full extend of the journey. You can of course decide how many week tickets you want (up to 3) and for which weeks. So you can, for instance, apply for tickets for week 3 and 4, or 1, 2 and 3 or just week 1.

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Travel documents

  • What travel documents do I need for this journey?

    Every one is responsible for his own rights to visit all the countries. We will provide some links on our website for information and collect some info about this topic in the near future, but if you are not a member of one of the so called “Schengen Countries”, you have to look extra careful what you need for the whole journey or for the part you want to join.

    We expect every one to have done that in person and take full responsibility for that and we don’t accept any responsibility for the consequences if papers don’t fit for the journey.

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Special thanks to Caro Grafisch Ontwerp, Wouter Buning, Seema and Trinoco Web & Media for helping setting up this website! Without them it couldn't have been this good!