European Countries are working on creating a complex network of night trains that will connect 13 major cities in Europe.
However, last week, various railroad providers from France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland announced a cooperation plan to create a network nicknamed Nightjet in the coming years.
The idea of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France is to connect a total of 13 European cities by night trains by December 2024. In this regard, the directors of the companies signed a joint declaration. It also marks the start of 2021 as the “European Year of Rails”.
In December 2021, the first line is set to be launched between Vienna, Munich, and Paris. As well as Zurich, Cologne, and Amsterdam. A year later Zurich will be connected to Rome. December 2023 will see another service between Vienna and Paris that travels via Berlin and Brussels. Night trains will also start to run between Zurich and Barcelona from December 2024.
According to the Austrian Minister of Transport, Leonore Gewessler, the creation of a night train network is a sign that Europe is taking its climate protection obligations seriously.
“We clearly see it as a political task to establish night trains as an alternative to short-haul flights and car journeys,” she said. Adding that 500 million euros will be invested in night trains over the next few years.
However, because of climate change and the pandemic restrictions, it is getting difficult for people to travel from one place to another. And some European train routes are faster than flying.
Moreover, the state railways in Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland are investing $605 million collectively to revive night time train services.
More Unity Among the European Cities
Meanwhile, Matthä’s French counterpart Jean-Pierre Farandou from SNCF highlighted that this project could create a semblance of unity between Europeans.
“The European Union should consider rail travel more as an instrument of European unity. We must rediscover the meaning of long-distance in Europe,” he said.
“We have cross-border cooperation, but night trains make it possible to go a little further. They can connect distances greater than 1000 km, and therefore connect passenger corridors between European countries,” Farandou added.
However, the Swiss representatives also gave their take on the matter. According to Peter Füglistaler, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, this cooperation is a fundamental decision.
“Now the railways have the political support they need to win over customers with attractive new offers,” he noted.
SBB CEO Vincent Ducrot also praised the initiative. Stressing that “the expansion of international connections in day and night rail traffic is very important for Switzerland”.
Introducing More Night Train Routes
Moreover, Sweden also plans to introduce a new international night train service to Germany and Belgium in 2022. The new route would connect Swedish cities to Hamburg and Brussels. Allowing for fast connections to central Europe and the UK.
However, a new low-cost night train between Prague and the Croatian coast started this past summer. And was such an instant hit that the service was increased to run every night. In its inaugural weeks, more than 30,000 tickets were sold, and some trains were entirely booked out thanks to tickets that were priced as low as €22 one way.