In 2022, a new sleeper train will add to a network of planned routes that will link up cities across Europe, including Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam.
It joins a growing number of companies reviving overnight rail travel across the continent, such as the French rail start-up with plans to connect Paris to destinations like Copenhagen, Rome and Porto by 2024.
The French start-up, which goes by the name of Midnight Trains, is described as a “hotel on rails” and will feature a restaurant and bar onboard, as well as hotel-style private rooms. From its base in Paris, it hopes to travel to 12 European destinations from 2024 and make the journey an adventure in itself for passengers.
The project is still in its early stages but Midnight Trains is just one of the many companies catering to a growing faction of travelers looking to swap air travel for slow and sustainable rail travel instead.
France’s state-owned SNF rail company announced an ambitious plan back in 2017 to reignite its sleeper trains, and last month launched a night service from Paris to Côte d’Azur with tickets starting at €29 for the 12-hour journey. And there is more in the pipeline with SNCF aiming to bring back a total of 10 sleeper services over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, a night train by RegioJet and European Sleeper will connect Prague to Brussels via Dresden, Berlin and Amsterdam in 2022, with services like free internet access, breakfast and free coffee. RegioJet will also launch a new night train service on the Prague route via Przemyśl, Poland, to Lviv, Ukraine, this year.
The RegioJet sleeper train is the biggest planned extension of the European night train network in years. The state railways in Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland have already announced a partnership to revive nighttime services.
It was just four years ago that Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s state railway, sold off all its sleeper cars, declaring them unprofitable because of low passenger numbers. But climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are changing how travelers get from A to B, and some European train journeys are actually faster than flying.
Five other routes are expected to launch in the next four years. By December 2021, a new night service will operate between Vienna and Paris via Munich, as well as between Zurich and Amsterdam.
Trains between Zurich and Rome will be on the schedule from December 2022. 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.