Have you ever wondered why the preferred choice for transport around Central Europe is cheap air travel? That’s because there aren’t enough sleeper trains around! Sure midnight buses exist, but let’s face it, trains are much faster and less of a hassle. To put it simply, it’s an ideal alternative if it arrives on time.
Well, new sleeper train connections are underway in Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland. By the end of 2024, SNCF (France), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), SBB (Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria), will initiate new routes to several parts of Europe.
NightJet (ÖBB) will be responsible for this service, already linking Vienna to cities like Venice, Rome, Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich and Brussels. As for the upcoming routes planned between 2021 -2024, here is the outline:
- December 2021: Zurich → Amsterdam & Vienna → Paris
- December 2022: Zurich → Rome
- December 2023: Berlin → Paris & Berlin → Brussels
- December 2024: Zurich → Barcelona
Europe already has an extensive array of railway services and its supporting infrastructure linking major cities to each other. This is why it is important to highlight the convenience of sleeper trains for this geographical region:
By spending the night on a train, travellers save money on overnight accommodation for the duration of their trip while they’re transported from point A to point B. Trains cover the distance between A and B (around Central Europe) in a relatively short amount of time (4-10 hours). Therefore, it is more suitable to spend these hours travelling while everybody is asleep, rather than wasting half the daylight on a train when you could have been sightseeing. This is particularly true during multi-destination travels, where time is of the essence.
In comparison to low-cost air travel, most train stations are situated within accessible central parts of a city, making arrival much more convenient than airport transfers. Moreover, with travellers becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint, taking a sleeper train is a much more environmentally friendly option.
One noticeable issue among European train lines, however, is the lack of a comprehensive ticket booking options throughout different destinations, as Andreas Scheuer (Minister of German Transport) points out: “An essential requirement for the Trans-Europe Express is a common digital booking platform. In the next few years, it must be possible to book all European rail connections in an app or on a website”.
Hopefully, by the time we can all travel again, overnight train journeys will be more widely recognized because of convenience in time, money, infrastructural locations, and environmental sustainability.