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Flight-free travel: Europe’s latest long-distance train routes for 2022

Switching planes for trains is one the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Switching planes for trains is one the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.   -   Copyright  Canva
By Euronews

As flight-free travel gains momentum, European train journeys are experiencing a renaissance.

Changing the way you travel is one the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. According to Eurostar, flying from London to Paris emits 14 times more CO2 than travelling by train.

Luckily, countries across the EU are investing in railways that provide better - and faster - connections than ever before.

From budget-savvy night trains to cross-country tracks, here are all the latest European railway routes.

Austria

Vienna to Paris with Nightjet

Austrian national rail firm ÖBB has been trailblazing Europe’s sleeper train revival with NightJet since 2016. In late 2021, it launched a new route between Vienna and Paris via Salzburg and Munich.

The journey takes 14 hours and runs three times a week in both directions, with prices from around €30 for a seat to €120 and up for a private compartment.

In summer 2023, Nightjet will launch new-gen trains that rival first-class flights in comfort. Expect wireless charging stations, free wifi, bicycle and snow sports equipment storage, private compartments with their own showers and toilets.

Germany

Berlin to Stockholm with Snälltåget

Swedish railway company Snälltåget has rerouted its Berlin to Malmö train service over Hamburg and Denmark, while extending it to Stockholm. The full journey takes just under 17 hours with prices for the direct service from around €50. 

Italy

Genoa to Naples with NTV Italo

In late 2021, Italian high-speed rail company NTV Italo launched a Genoa service linking the previously poorly connected port city in Italy’s northwest to the south of the country.

The journey from Genoa to Naples takes just under seven hours and costs from around €80 return.

Milan to Paris with Frecciarossa

Also in late 2021, Frecciarossa - the high-speed arm of Italian national train operator Trenitalia - launched a swanky new train between Milan and Paris.

Faster and more luxurious than previous services on this route, the train takes just under seven hours. Tickets are as cheap as €29 - though splash out on an ‘executive’ fare to travel in a comfy armchair.

Netherlands

Amsterdam to Austria with TUI's Ski Express (Dec 2022)

Snow sport lovers are bracing for a new overnight train launching between Amsterdam and some of Austria’s biggest ski resorts.

TUI’s ‘Ski Express’ will depart from Amsterdam every Friday night between 23 December and 31 March. After leaving the Dutch capital at 5:30pm, the service will stop at Utrecht, then continue directly to Austria.

Amsterdam to Zurich with Nightjet

Austrian-led night train pioneer NightJet launched a route between Amsterdam and Zurich in late 2021. It leaves at 8.30pm and arrives at 8.05am.

Sleeping options range from couchettes (from around €60) to sleeper cabins (from around €120).

Spain

Barcelona to Madrid with Iryo

Travelling between Spain’s capital and its top tourist city is about to get faster and cheaper with a new high-speed rail service from Iryo.

From late November, 16 return trains will run daily between Barcelona and Madrid, taking as little as 2.5 hours each way and costing just €18.

Slovenia

Ljubljana to Budapest with Hungarian Railways

Launched in December 2021, the Hungarian Railways train from Ljubljana, Slovenia, to Budapest, Hungary, runs through Graz in Austria for a scenic ride. The journey takes from 7.5 hours and trains depart at 5:05am and 9:35am, starting as low as €16 each way.

Sweden

Stockholm to Hamburg with SJ EuroNight

Launched in September 2022, the Stockholm Central to Hamburg-Altona night train is powered by renewable energy. It departs daily at 5.30pm and arrives at 6.30am, passing through Copenhagen along the way.

The cheapest option is a seat in a carriage (from €25). A bed in a shared compartment starts at €45, while a private compartment for two people with a sink starts at €165. Private compartments for one-to-three people come with their own shower, toilet and breakfast starting from around €205. Pet-friendly train compartments are also available.

Combined with existing Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn services, the service can also be used to travel from London to Stockholm in less than 24 hours.

Switzerland

Zurich to Rome with Nightjet (Dec 2022)

In a 2020 press conference, Nightjet announced it will launch a new night train between Zurich and Rome in winter 2022. It remains to be seen whether the plans will go ahead as scheduled. Currently, the operator’s only Rome routes include Vienna, Salzburg, Villach and Munich.

UK

London to Bordeaux with Eurostar (2027, maybe)

Eurotunnel execs have hinted at plans for a London to Bordeaux route, which they aim to launch within the next five years. They hope the new infrastructure will encourage private jet users to visit the Côte d'Azur more sustainably.