Are European sleeping trains doomed?

European Parliament report highlights decline of overnight trains; says Austria and Eastern Europe retain the most
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BERLIN — The number of passenger night trains offering sleeping accommodation operated within Europe has declined rapidly since 2010. Low-cost airlines and faster day trains are credited with taking passengers from traditional overnight services.

The European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism has published a research report into the future of night train services. "Passenger night trains in Europe: the end of the line?" looks at the business reasons that have created uncertainty in many national railroad managements.

A number of night train services will have closed by the end of 2017. Germany’s Deutsche Bahn has already closed its City Night Line services and the network of France’s Intercités de Nuit has been severely reduced.

In 2016, only 11 European Member States out of 28 had wholly domestic night train services and 18 had stations called at by at least one international night train service. By the end of 2017, it is expected that central Europe will retain a number of services operated on a commercial basis, mainly on Austria’s ÖBB Nightjet network, which currently extends to eight other EU Member States and Switzerland.

Western Europe will have limited night trains, with tourist-focused “hotel trains” in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, a number of subsidized services in the United Kingdom, three remaining subsidized services in France, and no services in the Belgium, Netherlands, or Luxembourg.

Eastern Europe will have a large number of services, whether operated by Russia’s RZD on the Russian broad gauge network or subsidized through Public Service Contracts. In Austria, operator ÖBB Nightjet has taken over some of Germany’s DB City Night Line routes and plans to expand its network.

Night train business travel is in decline, with most travel now being for leisure or tourism purposes. The only passengers who will always save hotel costs are tourists away from their home base, such as those from another continent on a multi-center holiday in Europe.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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