Europe expands night train network as rail becomes more popular

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By Johannes Pleschberger
A night train to Prague pulls in to Vienna station.
A night train to Prague pulls in to Vienna station.   -  Copyright  Johannes Pleschberger, Euronews

Going to bed in one country and waking up in another? European rail companies are moving to expand night trains in an effort to create an alternative to flying.

Both state railroads and private operators want to convince travellers to switch from airplanes to sleeper cars.

The Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB are leading the European network expansion and are expected to soon reach 26 routes.

"We want to offer passengers a service as an alternative to flying in Europe and that's why we are now also expanding the network with partners," said Bernhard Rieder, a spokesperson for ÖBB.

In cooperation with other state railroads, the ÖBB network will soon include cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam.

However, due to the market liberalisation of recent years, they're now competing with private companies who will plan to offer services from Stockholm to Berlin and the Alps, and from the Czech Republic to Ukraine.

Private operator Regiojet already runs night trains from Prague to Croatia and Slovakia.

But competing with state railroads isn't easy: Regiojet would therefore like to see joint ticket sales and state subsidies for both private and public railway companies.

"Our dream is to be able to compete on a fair open level with the state or with other companies because there should be no difference between a state operator and a private operator," said Aleš Ondrůj, a spokesperson for Regiojet.

Regiojet, together with other private railroads, has sent an open letter to politicians, asking for a fair competition.

This, they say, is the only way to implement the Green Deal in European passenger transport.