Could sleeper trains be the new short-haul flight?
By Fran Haddock
What's Going On Here?
Night trains are returning to the tracks across Europe following pressure from the Swedish flygskam movement and Flight Free 2020!
What Does This Mean?
Between 2009 and 2018 the European night train network shrank due to competition from budget airlines. However, over the last few months we’ve got wind of a revival with both new routes and restoration of previous networks. ÖBB, Europe’s largest operator of night trains have announced revival of the Vienna-Brussels night train, and also plans to have a Vienna-Amsterdam route by the end of the year. More exciting still is a new sleeper train service proposed to start in 2022 or 2023 from Sweden to Cologne, which could have passengers in London by the morning via already existing connections. Even in the UK there is progress with renovation of the Great Western Rail sleeper from London to Cornwall and £150 million investment in the Caledonian Sleeper between London and Scotland.
Why Should We Care?
There’s no doubt that this revival comes secondary to travellers looking for alternatives to flying due to environmental concerns. Although impact varies depending on what is fuelling the train, train journeys will pretty much always come out with a hugely lower carbon footprint than flying. For example the Vienna and Brussels night train is proposed to release 10 times less CO2 than flying! As we discussed in our Flight Free 2020 article, travelling by train not only reduces your personal footprint but influences others to do the same - thus increasing demand. Flying is set to double globally by 2037, which in no way aligned with our net zero targets. We think the revival of the night train is just the ticket to start reversing this!
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