The ambitious new European sleeper train network to connect London to Barcelona

europe sleeper train network – Getty

Rail anoraks were aquiver last week as the German Greens announced plans for a network of night trains in Europe. Under the proposals, some 40 sleeper services would dart between dozens of cities and holiday resorts, providing a low-carbon alternative to flying on a Continent struggling to drive down emissions.

Looking at the brightly coloured lines on the Greens’ map, it’s hard not to romanticise about nodding off in Edinburgh and waking in Paris – just one of the (admittedly fairly Germany-centric) routes proposed by the party. Berlin-Rome and Oslo-Prague are among the others that fired up the imagination.

The plans add to the sense that a new golden epoch for sleeper trains beckons. Pushed towards extinction by low-cost carriers, sleeper services are showing signs of a comeback in Europe amid rising demand for low-emissions travel.

“People are willing to travel increasingly long distances by train because they realise that climate change is a very real thing now,” said Mark Smith, who runs the Man in Seat 61 rail travel website. “People tell me that they want to cut their carbon footprint, but also that they want to get away from the airport and airline experience.”

The market has responded. OBB – Austria’s state run operator – has been buying brand new sleeper stock to serve its growing nocturnal network, something that would have raised eyebrows a decade ago. Its overnight Paris-Vienna service is set to launch in December, with Zurich-Amsterdam following in 2022; Berlin-Brussels and Berlin-Paris are due to get going in 2024.

Then there’s European Sleeper. The Dutch-Belgian railway startup has secured funding to launch a night train between Brussels and Prague, calling at Amsterdam and Berlin. Travellers will be able to hop aboard from 2022.

However, few firms have responded with quite as much pizzazz as Midnight Trains. The French startup has pledged to reboot the night train concept entirely from 2024 with a fleet of “rolling hotels”. It has a sleek website and a sexy weekly newsletter – but no rolling stock. Most startups simply can’t afford the upfront cost of buying new.

Like leaves on the line and the “wrong kind of snow”, there are other obstacles holding night trains back. Namely aviation’s generous tax breaks, which give planes a competitive advantage over night trains.

“Before we draw lines on maps we need to level the playing field between air and rail,” said Smith. “Airlines pay no fuel duty, which is like me filling up my car at 60p a litre. Meanwhile, railways have to pay tax on electricity and diesel. Policies look almost look as if they are designed to encourage emissions.”

The German Greens posit solutions to such problems, including proposals to end aviation’s tax advantages. The party also wants the European Investment Bank to invest in rolling stock and then lease it out to rail firms at a competitive rate.

First, though, the party has to persuade enough people to vote for them in this weekend’s elections to leverage any real power. With some polls putting them at almost 20 per cent of the vote – and given the fragmented nature of German politics – that’s arguably the easy bit. The hard bit could be clearing the tracks for a genuine night train revival.

Five eye-catching routes proposed by the Greens

1. Edinburgh-Frankfurt

Calling at London and Paris, this cross-Channel service is perhaps the most ambitious route proposed by the Greens – and the least likely to succeed. High track access fees for HS1 and the Channel Tunnel, plus friction at the border between the UK and EU, means it is likely to remain just a line on a map for now.

Likelihood of succeeding: 🚂

Estimated time: 14 hours

Where to stay if it succeeds: For uber-swanky lodgings just a short roll of the suitcase from Frankfurt central, check in at Roomers.

edinburgh waverley station – Getty

2. Oslo-Prague

Calling at Copenhagen, Hamburg and Berlin, this is another highly ambitious route that could make use of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel. One of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects, it is being bored beneath the Baltic Sea to provide a rail link between Denmark and Germany. It’s scheduled to open in 2029.

Likelihood of succeeding: 🚂 🚂

Estimated time: 16 hours

Where to stay if it succeeds: The intimate, upscale Cosmopolitan Hotel has elegant rooms, a destination restaurant and spa. It’s also just a short walk from Prague train station.

3. Berlin-Rome

This route is not as fanciful as you might think, given Europe’s plans for a direct train between Berlin and Palermo. The 1,400-mile service will use the Brenner Base Tunnel, which is being dug beneath the Alps. It’ll be the world’s longest underground rail tunnel when it opens in 2028.

Likelihood of succeeding: 🚂 🚂 🚂

Estimated time: 16 hours

Where to stay if it succeeds: The lavish, Grand Tour-inspired decor at Rome’s Hotel de la Ville is apt for travellers completing one of the longest rail journeys in Europe.

4. Berlin-Split

A shorter version of this route is already up and running thanks to the Czech rail operator Regiojet. Undeterred by the pandemic, it launched a summer sleeper train between Prague and Split last year, calling at Budapest and Zagreb. It’s been a “surprise night train success,” according to Smith.

Likelihood of succeeding: 🚂 🚂 🚂 🚂

Estimated time: 20 hours

Where to stay: For period features and elegant interiors, check in to Heritage Hotel 19; a charming place to unwind after a long train journey.

split, croatia – Getty

5. Paris-Berlin

A sleeper train plied this popular route until 2014, when it was axed to general outcry. In a sign of the times, the route is now being revived as part of OBB’s expansion of its nocturnal network. The first trains are due to depart in 2024.

Likelihood of succeeding: 🚂 🚂 🚂 🚂 🚂

Estimated time: 8 hours

Where to stay if it succeeds: Ideal for onward travel to London, Hôtel Whistler near Gare du Nord goes big on the golden age of travel theme.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Bigg Boss 15, Weekend Ka Vaar, Twitter Reactions: Fans SLAM Vishal Kotian for his rude behaviour in front of Hina Khan

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Bigg Boss 15 is getting even more entertaining with each passing day. The show is getting all the love from the audience. Today’s weekend ka vaar ... Read more »

Opinion: EU emphasizes power over values in row with Poland

© Provided by dw.com People in Gdansk at a pro-EU demonstration following a ruling by Poland’s top court against the primacy of EU law On October 7, Poland’s Constitutional Court ... Read more »

Joe Biden's Taiwan gaffes create concern in China and Asia

© Provided by dw.com Biden’s administration said he hadn’t announced changes to US policy on Taiwan. In August, ABC television asked US President Joe Biden what he thought of Chinese ... Read more »

Would Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Gabriel Luna Play Ghost Rider Again? Here's What He Says

© Provided by CinemaBlend Gabriel Luna on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made quite an impression during its seven-season run on ABC. The show received praise for a number ... Read more »

'Two months ago I was training with Wexford. How am I now surrounded by Premier League footballers?'

© PA Darragh O’Connor. THERE ARE MANY paths to the Premier League though few are as lightly worn as Darragh O’Connor’s.  “I never had trials across the pond, I never ... Read more »

New migrant caravan breaks through police blockade in Mexico, heads north

© Edgar H. Clemente / AP Several thousand migrants from Haiti, South America and Central America set off from southern Mexico headed north on Saturday, clashing with law enforcement trying ... Read more »

Russell Martin admits Swansea City 'couldn't match' Birmingham City in key department

Swansea City boss Russell Martin claimed his side couldn’t match Birmingham City’s energy levels in their 2-1 defeat at St. Andrew’s, after a ‘tough week’. Birmingham won the game thanks ... Read more »

Match of the Day running order revealed as Man City fans made to wait despite four-goal haul

Manchester City’s 4-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion will be on third on Match of the Day on Saturday evening, behind a six-goal thriller at Goodison Park and Chelsea’s ... Read more »

For the first time, a former Miss America is auctioning off her crown to aid teachers struggling in the pandemic

© Bettmann / Contributor Marilyn Elaine Van Derbur after being crowned Miss America in 1958. Bettmann / Contributor Marilyn Van Derbur is selling her pageant crown and matching bracelet at ... Read more »

Did You Know? The Hit '90s Song "Harana" Has One More Stanza You've Probably Never Heard Before

© Provided by Preview.ph You’re probably singing it in your head right now. That question from the hit 90s song Harana still rings true today. You’ve probably only seen it ... Read more »

Net Zero target relies on rise in windy days

Modelling used to justify the “feasibility” of the net zero target assumed a dramatic fall in the number of days of calm weather, when many turbines stand still, according to ... Read more »

Perez im 3. Training vorne: Ist Alfa-Sauber für Andretti zu teuer?

© Bereitgestellt von Blick Ist Alfa-Sauber für Andretti zu teuer? Der WM-Titelkampf von Max Verstappen und Lewis Hamilton geht in die entscheidende Phase. Mit dem Grossen Preis der USA in ... Read more »

This Genius Self-Warming Coffee Mug Is Back in Stock At Costco — Get Yours Before It's Gone

© Michael Buckner. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows. For most of us, autumn and winter mean wanting to snuggle in cozy blankets all day long on the couch. Unfortunately, as some of ... Read more »

Coronavirus live: Britain's weekly Covid cases at highest since July; vaccines alone not enough to curb variants – WHO

LIVE – Updated at 21:37 © Photograph: Daniel Pockett/EPA Police officers on patrol in St Kilda, Melbourne, which has emerged from the world’s longest lockdown. News comes after Pfizer said ... Read more »

Lisa Vanderpump's Daughter Pandora Reveals Sex of Baby After Announcing Pregnancy

UPDATE: On Saturday, Oct. 23, Pandora Vanderpump Sabo shared an Instagram video from her sex reveal party, announcing that she is expecting a baby boy. _______________________ Lisa Vanderpump will add ... Read more »

Obama decries GOP's 'meanness' while campaigning for McAuliffe in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. — Former President Barack Obama, campaigning Saturday for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor, framed the Nov. 2 election as an opportunity to decisively ... Read more »

Team comes first for Sarina Wiegman after Beth Mead heroics

© PA Wire Beth Mead, left, celebrates with manager Sarina Wiegman after the final whistle (John Walton/PA) – PA Wire England Women manager Sarina Wiegman put the “team accomplishment” above ... Read more »

Obama assails ‘politics of meanness' as he campaigns in Virginia governor race

RICHMOND, VA — Former President Barack Obama exhorted Virginians to support Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s candidacy for governor, warning of the dire consequences for the state and the country if he ... Read more »

Biden Delays Release of Some J.F.K. Records, Citing Pandemic

© George Tames/The New York Times People in Washington reacting to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The pandemic has created backlogs for multiple federal ... Read more »

Leslie Jordan Recounts Childhood Summers Spent at the Bookmobile: 'Probably the Greatest Gift'

For Leslie Jordan, being encouraged to read was “probably the greatest gift my mother ever gave me.” © Provided by People National Celebration of Reading Speaking with PEOPLE on Thursday ... Read more »

76ers haven't asked Nets about Ben Simmons-Kyrie Irving trade yet, per report

The season hasn’t opened quite as smoothly as either the Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers have hoped. Brooklyn, playing without Kyrie Irving, was blown out of its opening night ... Read more »

Join fight against terror, Amit Shah urges J&K youth

© Provided by The Times of India SRINAGAR: Home minister Amit Shah asked officials during a security review in Srinagar on Saturday about the targeted killings of minority community members ... Read more »

College football overtime rules 2021: Explaining how the new OT format works

Overtime is going to look a little bit different in college football games during the 2021 season. The NCAA has once again made some minor tweaks to its overtime rules. ... Read more »

Wake Forest, Army Shootout Shatters Over/Under Pregame Line For Game Point Total

© Provided by Sports Illustrated The game did not have a single field goal and the third quarter featured 21 points in the span of 48 seconds. In total, 18 ... Read more »

NFL fines CeeDee Lamb, Connor Williams, Trevon Diggs

© Provided by NBC Sports It was an expensive win for three Cowboys players last week, according to NFL Media. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, who had a pick-six late in ... Read more »

Strictly Come Dancing fans in stitches over 'wet' remark after John Whaite dance

Strictly Come Dancing fans have been left in stitches after a friend of John Whaite reacted to his and Johannes Radebe’s performance. The BBC One dance show’s first male same-sex ... Read more »

Rogers rejects possible meeting between ex-chair and his preferred board appointees

TORONTO — The bruising battle for control of Rogers Communications Inc. continued on Saturday, with the company claiming its recently ousted chairman intends to hold a weekend meeting with a ... Read more »

MotoGP Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Start time, how to watch & more

© Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team The Ducati rider claimed his fourth consecutive pole position by progressing through Q1 and storming the pole shootout in ... Read more »

Indo-Bangla ties deeper than any strategic alliance: Shringla

© Provided by The Times of India BENGALURU: Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Saturday said the ties between India and Bangladesh were deeper than any other strategic partnership, and ... Read more »

Cristiano Ronaldo backs Manchester United to adapt and overcome slow start

© Provided by WION Manchester United’s players need time to adjust to each other and their playing styles, forward Cristiano Ronaldo said, encouraging his team to overcome their inconsistent start to the ... Read more »

Lalu Prasad likely to hit campaign trail

© Provided by The Times of India PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad will reach Patna on Sunday after a gap of over three years. He will land at the airport ... Read more »

‘Conscious possession' not proved, NCB-accused freed

© Provided by The Times of India MUMBAI: Upholding an acquittal in an NCB case over an alleged haul of mandrax tablets 30 years ago, the Bombay HC recently held ... Read more »

Nigerian gunmen use dynamite to break into prison, free over 800 inmates

Gunmen attacked a jail in Nigeria’s Oyo State late on Friday and freed over 800 inmates by force, the third such major attack this year, prison service said in a ... Read more »

ED to probe Kerala church land deals

© Provided by The Times of India KOCHI: The Enforcement Directorate has launched an investigation into the controversial land deals of the Ernakulam Angamaly archdiocese. The ED has registered an ... Read more »

Fazilka double murder: 14 accused still at large

© Provided by Hindustan Times The Moga police have booked 17 persons for the Fazilka double murder and arrested only three of them so far. (AFP) Six day after the ... Read more »

Ludhiana: Income tax raids continue for third day

© Provided by Hindustan Times Police personnel deployed outside a house in Model Town area during income tax raids in Ludhiana on Thursday. (HT FILE) Income-tax (I-T) raids on bicycle ... Read more »

Injured film director Joel Souza “gutted” by death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

© via REUTERS Film director Joel Souza A film director who was injured when Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer with a prop gun has broken his silence following her ... Read more »

Disabled people struggling to hire carers after Brexit

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer Disabled people are struggling to hire carers to help with vital daily tasks due to low pay and Brexit, the Observer ... Read more »

Holidaymakers may need three Covid vaccines to travel abroad next summer

© PA Wire A record 234,000 booster vaccine bookings were made on Wednesday, says health minister. – PA Wire Holidaymakers may need three doses of the Covid vaccine if they ... Read more »

Tulsi Gabbard rails against 'establishment elite'

There is a bigger problem in politics than partisanship — that’s according to former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. © Provided by Washington Examiner The Hawaii Democrat, who ran for president in ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic