Travelling by train is a great option for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint while discovering Europe. In the past, there were many affordable services offering sleeper trains across the continent, but the rise of cheap airlines drastically reduced these services. The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, published by the European Commission in 2020, called for a shift in passengers from air to rail, highlighting the need for more night trains on the continent. This, combined with a surge of passengers who are hoping to travel greener by switching from flights to trains, has resulted in the proposal of many new sleeper train routes across Europe.
One of the most exciting projects is the French company named Midnight Trains, who will launch routes from its base in Paris to 12 European destinations between 2022 and 2024. Midnight Trains describe themselves as “a hotel on rails” and will offer comfortable accommodation for travellers including private rooms and on-board restaurants and bars. Prices will be competitive with budget airlines, when taking into account the hidden fees for luggage and transfers that are often hidden from the advertised fares. Destinations will include Edinburgh, Berlin, Copenhagen and Porto, making European holidays much more accessible by train – and much more comfortable than travelling by air.
Midnight Trains won’t be the only sleeper train routes to chose from, however. At the end of 2020, ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), SNCF (France) and SBB (Switzerland) signed an agreement to add more night train services within Europe. Private operators in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Belgium have also announced new sleeper services, which will all combine to make European train travel more accessible than ever before. SNCF have already launched a night service from Paris to the South of France with tickets starting at just €29, making long distance travel available to all budgets.
These new sleeper services will alleviate the need for short distance flights within the continent. Why would you choose to fly when it will become cheaper, more comfortable and faster to travel by rail? Not only will your travels be more sustainable, but you can sit comfortably and watch the world go by, before sleeping in a comfortable bed (for a fraction of the price you would pay for a bed on a plane) and wake up refreshed in a different country.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.