Big Night Train Expansion in Europe Announced by Railway Companies

Several major national railway companies have announced that they will team up to unroll six new international night train routes within Europe.

Press conference

The national railway companies involved, Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, Austria’s OeBB, France’s SNCF and Switzerland’s SBB, announced the expansion today during a press conference.

The four rail companies signed a memorandum of understanding to set the framework for an intensive collaboration on international night train services.

New routes

According to the plans announced today, there are a couple of interesting new night train routes to begin service in the next few years.

If everything goes according to plan, December 2021 would see the start of a Zurich to Amsterdam night train, as well as an overnight train between Paris and Vienna.

This would be followed by a Zurich to Rome overnight train in December 2022, while by December 2023 new night trains should run between Berlin and Paris as well as between Paris and Brussels.

Finally, a Zurich to Barcelona route is planned for December 2024.

night train routes expansion europe
The newly announced night train routes. ©Deutsche Bahn AG

Environment

According to the railway companies involved, working closely together is needed to reduce CO2 emissions and to improve a sustainable and environmentally friendly railway network across Europe.

Although it might seem simple to roll out an international night train route, these trains are often difficult (and costly) to operate due to high track charges and different national operational requirements.

To tackle this, the four railway companies will “work closely with politicians” and are “committed to an even stronger cooperation at all levels in a clear commitment to night trains” according to their joint statement.

norwegian sleeper train
A Norwegian sleeper train at Oslo Central Station. ©Paliparan

History

After many years of decline, it therefore seems that international night train connections are slowly being brought back to their former glory.

In the last decade, many night train routes have been discontinued by various national railway companies, most of them due to the high costs required to operate them.

Most, if not all of the newly announced routes are therefore more of a resumption of old services than brand new routes which have never been operated before.

For example, the Barcelona to Zurich route was once operated by Spanish “Elipsos Trenhotel” trains. The train, branded as the ‘Pau Casals’, was however discontinued on 7th December 2012.

night train amsterdam
I always loved to travel by overnight train as they are comfortable, save a night’s hotel bill and make for an efficient way to cover large distances. ©Paliparan

Other new night trains

Some other interesting new night train routes have already been announced earlier. Austrian train operator OeBB will reconnect Amsterdam with Munich, Vienna and Innsbruck by overnight trains starting December 13th.

The new train will be operated under the Nightjet brand, the night train division of the Austrian Railways.

French rail operator SNCF will reportedly relaunch its famous Paris-Nice sleeper service later in 2021. Swedish railway company Snälltåget plans to introduce night trains from Stockholm, Malmö and Copenhagen to Hamburg and Berlin next year as well.

nightjet night train europe
A Nightjet sleeper train. ©Screenshot

In short

The national railway companies of Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria signed a cooperation agreement which will see them rolling out new night train routes.

Zurich will be connected with Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona, Paris will get new connections with Berlin and Vienna, while Brussels will get a new night train to Berlin.

It’s great news for any railway enthusiast as step by step, overnight train services in Europe are restored to their former glory. I always thought they made for an excellent mode of transport, offering a comfortable, time-effective and reasonably-priced way to travel.

Above all, it allows you to slow down and to take in the surroundings at a leisurely pace, an important factor which is often missing when travelling by road or air.

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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