Well, I was definitely nervous about riding the night train. We ended up riding 3 night trains over this trip. First off, I don't sleep well in my own bed, and when i don't get enough sleep I get cranky. I wanted to enjoy this trip, not spend it feeling ill from not enought sleep. Second, I was worried that the kids wouldn't sleep well, or not at all. Third, I was worried that the trains would be icky and i would want to scrub us all down afterwards.
As it turned out, all went well. On the trip from Prague to Zurich we rode a German train line, City night trains. As far as icky-ness goes, they were pretty decent, i wasn't grossed out by the compartment. And as far as train bathrooms go, these were on the nicer side. Small, but clean. We purchased 6 couchettes in a whole comentpartm. What this means--we had 6 narrow bunks in a compartment. Technically we only had to pay for 5 beds with the ages of the kids, but we didn't want to end up with some random person in the small space with all of us, so we purchased the extra bed-we needed the sleeping room anyway.
The comparment is a small rectangle room with 3 bunks on each side. Savannah and Kylynn each had a top bunk. Calvin had a middle bunk, Isabel and Benjamin shared a middle bunk, and David and I took the 2 bottom bunks. Matthew slept in his portable bed (it's like a box that folds up) and we slid it under my bunk. All the kids slept well.
On the train back from Zurich, it was exactly the same, so again the kids slept well, and I put in my earplugs and slept rather well too.
Then came the train from Prague to Krakow. I was again worried. Trains going into Poland never really look nice. And as we boarded the train, my worries were on the mark. This train wagon was old. It wasn't too icky in the compartment, but the bathroom was definitely icky. The bunks were old and hard and didn't have much railings for the kids. I told myself I can do this for 1 night. Once we got situated and the kids safely put to bed, David went to see the other wagons of the train and found that the step up from ours, is really a nice step up. They are about $30 dollars more per bed in price, and they are nicer compartments. Well for us, the kids were all sleeping and the timeclock was counting down, so we just slept in the old train wagon and we survived. The kids slept well, but Kylynn, David, and I were tired! We took the kids home, showered them, fed them and dropped them on time at school.
Unfortunately we didn't get any good pictures of the sleeper train compartments. I meant to take some, but with all of us in a small space and getting the kids to bed, i forgot. The few we took are blurry and not good.
In the end, I think I would ride a night train again, but I would research to find out the details of the sleeper train, If it is old, I think I would upgrade. But otherwise the couchettes were just fine on the city nightline trains.