With the generalized chaos affecting airports in Europe, the popularity of trains in the continent has soared to new heights. After countries like Germany and Spain slashed fares to promoted train ridership this summer, a new trend started emerging: that of overnight journeys, and now there’s even a new high tech sleeper train launching.
Unlike in North America, where companies like Amtrak were on the brink of bankruptcy due to low demand for rail links, and have only recently experienced a powerful comeback, trains are an inherent part of the wider European experience, with some routes being attractions in their own right and actively sought out by visitors.
Now, Europe is taking it up a notch by unveiling its brand new night trains, set to travel across all of its major destinations. Paris, Budapest, Milan, Vienna, you name it:
Here’s Everything We Know So Far About The Launch
Naturally, Europe has had the upper hand in responding to the train tourism surge: unlike in places like Mexico where this mode of transport is being re-introduced decades later, the Old World never ceased investing in railway, which has remained an important aspect of inter-European connectivity – even after air travel became widespread.
Now, it is banking on sleeper trains to assert its dominance in the market. More specifically, we’re witnessing the relaunch of a number of night routes that had, up until this year, been largely overshadowed by low cost, short-distance flights. As it appears, contrary to popular belief, the appeal of long luxury train rides has not faded in the slightest.
Austrian national rail company OBB has just confirmed its new NightJets are debuting next year – a generation of posh-looking, high tech trains built to maximize comfort during overnight journeys. Believe it or not, OBB’s new pan-European express even has the potential to surpass flight bookings.
Meet NightJet – Europe’s Shiny High-Speed Overnight Express
The new NightJet trains will be comprised of seven carriages:
- Two are standard seats
- Two sleeping cars able to house two travelers in each compartment
- Three further sleeping cars with four-passenger suites, as well as mini-cabins for those traveling solo and seeking more privacy
The most exciting addition, perhaps, are the new minisuites ‘at couchette prices’. These have been teased exclusively by Mark Smith, the Man in Seat 61, who had a sneak peak into the train ahead of its official launch:
They will be able to carry 254 passengers – more seats than most short-haul planes offer, including those used by Europe’s famous ultra low cost carrier Ryanair, most commonly a Boeing 737-800 with an 189-seat configuration. Additionally, the NightJet will travel at a speed of 143 miles per hour, covering longer distances in a much shorter timespan.
What Are The NightJet’s Strongest Assets?
Keeping it short, speed and amenities.
To draw a comparison, Trenitalia’s flagship Frecciarossa, Italy’s renowned high-speed trains among Europe’s best, can reach up to 186 miles per hour – only moderately faster than the NightJet. The latter is set to rival Europe’s historic, yet prohibitively-priced Venice Simplon-Orient Express, carrying passengers from Western Europe all the way to Istanbul in Turkey.
While they will obviously not be as upscale as the Orient Express, an unparalleled icon synonymous with Old World opulence, the NightJet trains are seeing some major upgrades compared to other long-distance, cross-border service around Europe:
- Berths are expected to feature wireless phone charging and mood lighting
- The sleeper car compartments will have their own toilets and showers
- Couchette and sleeper coaches include breakfast
- Trains are equipped with air conditioner, an absolute essential during Europe’s hot summer months*
*Temperature can be controlled individually in each compartment
When And Where Is It Launching?
The updated NightJets are set to make their big debut in summer 2023, and so far, service has been confirmed across 25 destinations in 8 countries:
- Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck)
- Switzerland (Zurich, Basel)
- Germany (Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Munich)
- Italy (Florence, Rome, Verona, Lake Garda, Milan, Venice, Bologna)
- Belgium (Brussels)
- France (Paris, Strasbourg)
- Croatia (Zagreb, Split)
- Sweden (Stockholm)
Fares for summer 2023 are yet to be announced, though they can go as low as €29,90 at present.
Recently, we published an article on Europe’s popular train pass enabling Americans to travel 33 countries for less than $200. We don’t know, as of yet, whether these can be validated on future NightJet journeys, as further details such as ticket fares and discount eligibility are yet to be outlined. For more information, please refer to the company’s FAQs page.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com