Rail stations offered as hotels for Euro 2008

/ Source: The Associated Press

Looking for a place to stay during Euro 2008, and a five-star hotel strains the budget? Try the railway station.

The Swiss rail operator CFF hopes its offer will help ease the problem of a national shortage of hotel rooms and camping sites during the June 7-29 tournament.

"As trains will run until late on our network to allow spectators to return home, we said that we could make a gesture of goodwill," CFF spokesman Jean-Louis Scherz said.

Stations will stay open all night at three of the four Swiss host cities — Basel, Bern and Zurich. Those sleeping at a station, however, will have to make do with a bench on the platform or a seat in the waiting room. They will be charged for using the restrooms.

"We will be much more tolerant with our customers during the Euros," said Martin Graf, of security firm Securitrans. "But there will be limits."

Fans with game tickets are promised free public transportation on the day of the game and until noon the next day.

Christophe Mumenthaler, a spokesman for the Bern tourism office, told Le Matin newspaper that all accommodation in the capital is booked. The Swiss capital will host three games featuring the Dutch team from June 9-17.

Only the Geneva station will close at night during the tournament, which is co-hosted with Austria.

The city hosts three games between June 7-15, leaving fans to compete for scarce hotel rooms with delegates attending the United Nations' International Labor Conference.

During the tournament, fans in Geneva will be able to go to a nightclub at the city's ice rink that will stay open until 5 a.m.