Brussels Midi station had never seen anything like it. At 8am on Saturday morning, scores of people were excitedly milling around platform 3 in a hubbub of noise, as a strangely decorated train waited to set off. The train indicator read “Climate Express to Copenhagen”. Bemused Belgian railway officials tried in vain to keep some kind of order on the platform as squads of TV crews surrounded VIPs in suits, including members of the Belgian government and European officials, and photographers snapped. An old man in a fake white beard and robes – looking like a cross between Father Christmas and an archbishop – posed with a large blow up globe. Children watched in fascination. A small band played. There were a small knot of cyclists, en route from Barcelona.
Eventually, the railway officials got their way and everyone climbed on board. The whistle blew, the engines started up, and people on the platform waved as the train slowly gathered speed. The Climate Express – run by the UIC union of European railways, and Deutsche Bahn – with its carriages filled with politicians, government officials, business people, railway company executives, climate change activists, and journalists from all over Europe, was on its way.