While changes in the travel industry have tended to pressure night trains off the market, it’s clear that there is still some appetite for them among travelers. When Germany’s Deutsche Bahn halted its night services in 2017, Austrian Federal Railways took over some of the key routes. The takeover has proved to be a success, with passenger numbers on the services …rising from 1.4 million to 1.6 million between 2017 and 2018, a rise in profits, and talk of expansion. Meanwhile, well-established leisure services such as the London-to-Scotland Caledonian Sleeper continue to thrive.
The overnight train services remain popular because many people actually like them. The duration of travel, of course, is usually far longer than by plane, even when layovers and security are factored in, but there are other compensations. Generally scheduled to leave late evening and arrive before the working day begins, night trains offer the possibility of sleep and more leisurely travel compared to an early-morning rush to the airport. They can also be reasonably priced: On the Vienna-to-Berlin night service, for example, a one-way ticket with a reclining sleeper seat starts at €29 ($32.50), a couchette (a four- or six-person compartment whose bunks fold down into comfortable seating during the day) at €49 ($55), and a single-berth sleeper with private toilet and shower at €139 ($159). If the trip saves you the cost of a hotel room, many people seem to be noting, that’s not a bad deal.
So while the outlook seemed bleak just a few years ago, Sweden’s plan arrives at a time when the sector’s fortunes seem to be brightening once more.
…Getting more people on the rails can only have a positive effect in reducing the carbon footprint of international mobility.