Paris, France: In a significant revival of overnight train services, a new Berlin-Paris connection, operated by French and German national train operators SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, is set to launch its maiden voyage.
The reintroduction of this overnight connection comes after a nine-year hiatus, signalling a shift in transportation preferences and a renewed focus on sustainable travel.
The inaugural journey will depart from Berlin’s main station, with the presence of ministers from Paris and Berlin, alongside the leaders of the participating train companies, adding a symbolic touch to the relaunch of the service.
The reintroduction of this connection is a response to growing demand for cleaner alternatives to air travel and a resurgence in the popularity of night trains.
The rolling stock for this connection will be provided by Austrian train company OeBB, known for its “Nightjet” trains that extensively cover central Europe.
The collaboration between the national operators and OeBB reflects a pan-European effort to promote eco-friendly and efficient cross-border rail travel.
Initially, the Berlin-Paris night train service will run three times a week, with plans to increase frequency to a daily service starting in October 2024.
The return of this connection is part of a broader trend in Europe, where night trains are experiencing a renaissance, offering passengers an appealing and sustainable alternative to budget airlines and high-speed trains.
Night trains faced challenges at the beginning of the century, losing ground to other modes of transportation.
However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in these services, driven by both passengers seeking a more climate-friendly option and policymakers prioritizing sustainable transport solutions.
French President Emmanuel Macron set an ambitious goal in 2020 to open ten new sleeper services by 2030, and the Berlin-Paris connection is a tangible outcome of this initiative.
The French government has invested around 100 million euros ($108 million) to revive the night train network and prepare new carriages for service.
The allure of train travel, with its climate benefits and nostalgic charm, has drawn passengers to night trains. In 2023 alone, approximately 215,000 passengers opted for night trains, marking a 15% increase from the previous year.
Despite the excitement surrounding the resurgence of night trains, profitability remains a challenge for operators.
Many night train services, including the Berlin-Paris connection, depend on subsidies to remain operational.
The French government contributes 10 million euros annually to sustain the Berlin link. Without public support, operators would struggle to offer competitive prices for sleeping car accommodations.
The return of night trains is not limited to state-backed services; private companies are also entering the market.
European Sleeper, a Dutch company, recently launched a Berlin-to-Brussels night train service, contributing to the diversification of options for passengers seeking overnight travel.
As the Berlin-Paris night train embarks on its renewed journey, it symbolizes a shift toward more sustainable and environmentally conscious transportation choices.
The success and popularity of these night train services may pave the way for further expansions and innovations in Europe’s rail travel landscape.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members