There’s something romantic about taking a sleeper train across Europe. It might not be the most efficient way to travel from one country to another, and in the age of budget airlines it might not even be the cheapest, but it’s certainly the most scenic. Now sleeper trains are about to make a huge comeback. National rail operators in Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland are partnering to launch several sleeper train routes linking 13 European destinations.
It’s one of the largest-ever extensions of Europe’s overnight rail network and is partly motivated by the European effort to cut carbon emissions caused by air travel.
The routes will be operated by Austria’s OeBB using 20 new trains and will begin running in December 2021 from Vienna to Paris via Munich and from Zurich to Amsterdam via Cologne. By December 2023, rail routes will be launching between Berlin and Vienna and between Brussels and Barcelona, and by December 2024, a route will open between Zurich and Barcelona.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told Reuters, “Board the train in Munich or Berlin in the evening and arrive refreshed in Brussels or Paris the next morning. We’ll be travelling in a more climate- and environment-friendly way.”
Although sleeper trains might seem like a blast from the past, since they present a more climate-friendly alternative to air travel, they might actually be the future of sustainable travel.