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. Now, a French rail start-up is also planning to connect Paris to cities such as Copenhagen, Rome and Porto overnight by 2024, joining a growing number of companies reviving overnight rail travel across the continent.
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 to Lviv this year.
A new sleeper train is taking passengers from Paris to Nice overnight ©Valery Bareta/Shutterstock
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 with a $605 million (€697 million) investment fund 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.
Long-distance train waits at the Malmo Railway Station, Sweden holgs/Getty Images
Separately, Sweden announced in 2020 that it’s planning to introduce a new international night train service to Germany and Belgium by 2022. The new route would connect Swedish cities to Hamburg and Brussels, allowing for fast connections to central Europe and the UK.
A new low-cost night train between Prague and the Croatian coast started last 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 ($19.11) one way.
This article was originally published on December 17, 2020 and updated on June 22, 2021.
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