‘Every kilometre on the train is a kilometre for climate protection’: Take a look inside Austria’s new night trains.
Austrian rail operator OeBB on Saturday unveiled its new generation of sleeper trains - a response to demands from travellers for less pollutant alternatives to planes and petrol or diesel cars.
Night trains are starting to make a comeback in Europe thanks to their low-carbon footprint. After years of neglect, operators are now investing heavily to replace their ageing rolling stock.
State-owned rail operator OeBB, which has 20 rail routes across Europe, has been a pioneer in reviving such services.
The company has Europe's largest fleet of sleeper trains and hopes to double its number of overnight passengers from 1.5 million to three million by 2030.
Austria's new sleeper trains are 'pure luxury'
The new trains feature a modern design, more privacy and more facilities. Each two-person compartment has its own toilet and shower.
There are even single-person cabins for solo travellers who are looking for a bit more privacy.
"I still remember the old sleeping coaches, which were so dark - the small window, the bunk beds and a curtain," said 69-year-old retiree Rosemarie, as she examined OeBB's sleek new night train on Saturday.
Compared to the old sleeper trains, "this is crazy - pure luxury", she laughed.
The first of 33 - ordered from German conglomerate Siemens in 2018 for a total investment of €720 million - could come into service as early as December.
Between then and 2028, the new sleeper trains will be phased in on other routes in Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"France will have to wait a bit because this requires new approvals from the national railroad authority," OeBB CEO Andreas Matthae told AFP.
"Unfortunately, we are not yet a unified Europe in the railroad sector."
Austria's sleeper trains are powered by renewable energy
"Every kilometre by train is a kilometre for climate protection and... a contribution to a better future," Austria's Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler told AFP.
"Boarding in Vienna in the evening and waking up refreshed in another European metropolis the next morning. This will be even easier and more comfortable in the future," she added in a statement.
Since 2018 OeBB said all its trains "run on electricity generated exclusively by hydropower, solar and wind power... a milestone for climate protection in Austria".
Matthae said that the company will continue to play a "pioneering role" in developing Europe's night train transport.
OeBB's Berlin-Paris night train service is to return on 11 December, nine years after it was cancelled.
The first passenger service is planned for December this year on the Vienna - Hamburg and Innsbruck - Hamburg lines. The ticket presale starts on 11 October.
Watch the video above to see inside OeBB's new night train carriages.