Trains are great – cleaner, greener, more spacious and generally a load less hassly than flying. Once viewed as belonging to travel’s past, rail is now starting to look a lot like the future. In the USA, a huge expansion of the Amtrak network is beckoning under the leadership of president-elect Joe Biden. And in Europe, some very cool plans have just been revealed for a whole new generation of sleeper trains.
Sleeper services, which operate overnight between major destinations, eliminate the main downside of train travel: the lengthy journey times. Like a red-eye flight on rails, you can board the train in the centre of one city and wake up in another, ready to grab an espresso and explore.
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Once numerous, Europe’s night trains have gradually been cut back over recent decades. But that trend is reversing, and we’re super excited to hear about the announcement of five new European night train routes, launching over the next four years.
The first new Nightjet route, launching in December 2021, will link Vienna, Munich and Paris. At the same time, Amsterdam and Zurich will get a new overnight ‘A-to-Z’ link, with a stop at Cologne. The new routes will link up to the Eurostar in Paris and Amsterdam, as well as existing night trains to Venice and Graz.
From December 2022, you’ll be able to catch another new night train from Zurich to Rome, via Milan. In December 2023, further new sleeper routes will launch between Berlin, Paris and Brussels (providing further links to Eurostar).
Finally, in December 2024, a route will open between Zurich and Barcelona.
That’s a total of eight European countries linked by the new routes, which are being run by an international consortium of railway companies led by Austria’s ÖBB.
A new Brussels-Vienna overnight service launched in January 2020, though it’s been temporarily suspended due to low passenger numbers. According to British railway expert The Man in Seat 61, the overnight service from Paris to Nice is also likely to resume in 2021, alongside a new sleeper service from Stockholm to Hamburg and Berlin.
In short: your European travels over the coming years are going to involve a lot less hanging around at airports, and a lot more sashaying through railway stations. Needless to say, we’re into it. All aboard!
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