Berlin, Barcelona, Vienna, and Rome will be just a snooze away with the new night trains!
We’ve not exactly been doing much flying this year, but new developments in Europe mean we might be doing even less of it in future (and no, that’s not a thinly-veiled jab at the Brexit discussions). That’s because the state railways of Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland have launched a huge new investment fund to extend night train services across the continent, with thirteen cities set to be linked by the overnight services.
As someone who’s extremely awful at sleeping on public transport, I’m normally inclined to take these sleeper trains with a pinch of caution – but the enticing destinations look to make any lost sleep more than worthwhile. The partnership, which has been launched by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, Austria’s ÖBB, Switzerland’s SBB, and France’s SNCF, will pour nearly €500 million into establishing the routes. The overnight services will eventually connect – deep breath – Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Graz, Zurich, Milan, Venice, Rome, and Barcelona, which is one hell of a grand tour.
It’s one of the biggest extensions of the European night train network for a long time, coming just a few years after Deutsche Bahn sold off their sleeper cars amid fears they’d become unprofitable. However, the continuing rise of the flygskam (‘flight shame’) movement and increasing awareness of the environmental impact of travel by road and air, has led to a swift about-face.
The overnight routes won’t all be launched at once, and not every city will connect directly to one another – but it’ll still be brilliant for country-hopping. The first routes to launch, in December 2021, will be Amsterdam to Zurich, and Paris to Vienna (via Munich). Joining them in December 2022 is Zurich to Rome, before services from Berlin connect to Paris and Brussels in December 2023. Finally, Zurich and Barcelona will be connected in December 2024, whilst Graz, Venice, and Hamburg will all be reachable via connecting trains.
Press conference on night trains: From Dec 2021, new sleeper trains to be introduced Vienna/Munich to Paris and Amsterdam to Zurich. From Dec 2022, Zurich to Rome. From Dec 2023 Berlin to Brussels/Paris. From Dec 2024 Zurich to Barcelona. pic.twitter.com/rYPU1VuskH
— The Man in Seat 61 (@seatsixtyone) December 8, 2020
As you might have noticed, London doesn’t feature in any of these connections, but with Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels a mere Eurostar away, you’ll be able to tap into the night train network from the capital. It’s enough to entice me into a long-deferred Interrail trip, that’s for sure! And best of all, this is far from the only night train development on the horizon. Swedish authorities revealed a plan to connect Malmö with Cologne (and eventually Brussels) earlier this year, whilst an overnight route from Stockholm to Berlin and Hamburg is also in the works. Add to that the recent move by Czech train company RegioJet to connect Prague, Budapest, and Vienna with cheap daytime tickets, and you’ve got quite the rail adventure on your hands. Definitely something to look forward to once we can travel again…
Also published on Medium.