Four European rail companies say they plan to boost the continent’s network of night train connections. They are reviving routes interrupted several years ago for cost reasons.
German rail company Deutsche Bahn and national operators in France, Switzerland and Austria say several routes will restart next December. They are routes from Vienna to Paris, via Munich, and Zurich to Amsterdam, via Cologne,
Further international connections from Vienna and Berlin to Brussels and Paris will be created in 2023. A Zurich to Barcelona sleeper will begin rolling in 2024.
The move marks a change of direction for Deutsche Bahn. It shut down its night train service citing unsustainable costs and lack of demand. This was due to cheaper and faster budget flights.
That decision, which severed key European connections because of Germany’s central location in the continent’s rail network, was heavily criticized by fans of the sleeper service and by environmental groups who argue that train travel is more sustainable than flying.
Austrian railways as well as operators in Scandinavia run what they say are profitable routes.
“Night trains are the future of climate-friendly mobility in Europe,” says Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s transport minister.
Take the trains instead of short flights
Earlier Dutch national airline company, KLM said it wants to make trains more attractive as an alternative to short flights. The airline is looking at six destinations with distances of up to 700 kilometres, which can also be accessible by train. These are Brussels, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Berlin.
KLM has an action plan together with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Schiphol, and the Dutch rail company, NS. They hope that travelers will take both trains and airplanes. Or consider using a train when transferring.
The six destinations are already accessible by rail. The NS plans to speed up train travel from Amsterdam to Berlin and Brussels