Austria, Sweden, France … After being marginalized by low-cost air links and high-speed trains, night trains are making a comeback in Western Europe. A paradox at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic encourages people not to stay too long with strangers in a confined place. The Austrian national company ÖBB has become in recent years the champion of night trains, even buying up the activities which the German Deutsche Bahn wanted to get rid of in order to build up a network in central Europe. It now reaches Brussels from Vienna and has just bought 20 new trains for 500 million euros, with the aim of going further by the end of 2024. “Then I will be able to realize my dream of going to Paris”, said recently his boss Andreas Matthä at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“In the coming years, we want to focus on building the night train network,” Austrian Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler also told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper. “We want to strengthen this pioneering role,” she added, proudly noting that Vienna is served by more night trains than any other city in Europe. Another model for night trains: Sweden, kingdom of “flygskam” – the feeling of guilt in the face of the harmful environmental effects of air transport. The government has just released 400 million crowns (39 million euros) there to relaunch daily Stockholm-Hamburg and Malmö-Brussels connections by summer 2022. Stockholm wants to “be at the forefront”, hoping that this investment “will make school” elsewhere in Europe.
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In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced on July 14 that he intended to “massively redevelop” night trains, as well as rail freight and small lines. And the Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has already announced
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