Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB expand night train services

Status: 05.09.2023 5:19 p.m

Overnight train journeys in sleeper cars are becoming increasingly popular. The largest provider in Germany is the Austrian Federal Railways. New connections are now planned, for example from Berlin to Paris.

Deutsche Bahn and the Austrian Federal Railways (OBB) have announced new connections for the Europe-wide night train network. From December, Nightjet trains will run from Berlin and Vienna to Paris and Brussels three times a week. From autumn 2024, daily connections will then be offered on the routes.

More cross-border links

Deutsche Bahn discontinued its own reunification offer six years ago. However, several routes in Germany continued to be operated by ÖBB. Now the two companies want to expand their cooperation further, as they announced today.

Further changes in cross-border long-distance trains are planned. The ICE route between Berlin and Vienna is to be extended to Hamburg. In addition, an ICE will run every day from Berlin via Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart to Innsbruck.

ÖBB wants to double the number of passengers on night trains

The DB Group justified the end of its own night trains at the end of 2016 by saying that they were too unprofitable. Since then, DB has only had ICs and ICEs with seats that regularly travel overnight. But in the meantime, night trains with sleeping cars are making a comeback. Many people see them again as a comfortable and, above all, more climate-conscious alternative to flying. Since 2020, the number of connections has more than doubled from around 90 at the time to over 200 today.

The new connections from Berlin to Paris and Brussels are “strong signs that DB and ÖBB believe in the night train product and will provide more services,” he said Sabine Stock, ÖBB board member for passenger transport. “By 2030 we want to double the number of passengers in Nightjet traffic”. Deutsche Bahn “plays an important role here, since many Nightjet lines start and end in Germany,” says Stock.

The demand is very high, said the ÖBB manager. “The topic at the moment is the capacities. We are currently working at full capacity,” said Stock. Many trains are already completely full after the first booking day.

Trains to Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Sweden

According to the Pro-Rail Alliance, ÖBB is the main provider and operator of night trains in Germany. From several major German cities, they mainly travel towards Austria, Switzerland and Italy, but also to the Netherlands or Eastern European countries such as Croatia, Slovenia or Hungary. But there are other operators too.

For a few months now, the private company European Sleeper has been offering night trips from Berlin to Brussels via Amsterdam. With the Hungarian night train, travelers can also travel from Munich or Berlin to Budapest while they sleep. There is also the Croatian night train from Stuttgart and Munich to the capital Zagreb or to the Adriatic metropolis Rijeka.

In addition, some providers head for vacation areas overnight at seasonal times. From May to October, for example, the “Alpen-Sylt Night Express” runs on weekends from Salzburg via Munich and from Basel via Frankfurt to the North Sea island and back. Since 2021 there has been a night train between Berlin and Stockholm operated by the operator Snälltåget during the summer months. Hamburg has also been connected to Stockholm since last autumn.

With information from Till Bücker, ARD finance department.

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