“Hotels on rails”: plans for the European sleeper train network unveiled


(CNN) – Just a few years ago, it seemed that European sleeper trains were on the way to becoming a thing of the past as services were continually reduced.

But the European night train network has seen some kind of revival over the past 12 months, with a number of national rail providers announcing new connections between different cities.

Now, a French start-up founded by Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, the duo behind the French crowdfunding site KissKissBankBank, has unveiled its plans for a new network of night services from Paris to 12 European destinations, including Edinburgh and Porto.

Midnight trains hopes to completely reinvent the night train experience by launching a “hotel on rails” that offers a greener alternative to flying as well as a more comfortable alternative to basic night train services long associated with Europe.

While passengers shouldn’t expect the level of luxury from the Orient Express, trains, which are expected to cover distances of 800 to 1,500 kilometers to and from Paris, will include “hotel-style” rooms, a restaurant on board, a bar and a concierge service managed by an app. .

Resumption of the night train

Midnight Trains plans to launch a new network of night services from Paris to 12 European destinations.

Courtesy midnight trains

According to one company, those on board are guaranteed “privacy, security and serenity” in each of the bookable private rooms, which are available in a range of sizes to suit couples and larger groups.

“Travelers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of air travel and they need an alternative,” co-founder Payet told CNN Travel.

“When they travel from Paris to most major European cities, they don’t have this alternative. In addition, transport operators (air or rail) have focused on lowering prices for two decades, completely forgetting the customer experience and associated services.

“We believe that travelers are now looking for a more comfortable and convenient means of transport. ”

He also notes that the “speed” of catching a flight is an “illusion” because “an hour-long flight is actually four hours door-to-door.”

Meanwhile, its co-founder Aumont stresses that the company hopes to be “at the forefront” of redesigning sleeper trains, pointing out that there are currently limited options for those who want to avoid flying in Europe, but hate it. idea of ​​spending a night crammed next to strangers.

The two predict that the network will prove to be an attractive option for those concerned about the environmental impact of theft.

“Air travel produces high carbon emissions. With Midnight Trains, we want to create a more comfortable, practical, transparent and sustainable alternative, ”adds Payet.

Sustainable option

French start-up Midnight Trains has unveiled plans for a whole new network of night services from Paris to 12 European destinations, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and even Scotland.

A rendering of a bedroom on board Midnight Trains, a new start-up that hopes to reinvent the night train experience.

Courtesy midnight trains

Its first line is expected to launch in 2024, while the network plans to become fully operational by 2030, with lines from Paris to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Scotland.

“We have been working hard for nearly a year to define the offer, the project roadmap and bring together the best specialists around the project,” explains Payet.

“We must now execute the roadmap plan in order to launch our first trains in 2024.”

While it’s not clear how much a trip on one of the midnight trains will cost you, the company says its prices will be competitive with air fares, noting that passengers will “save at least a night’s sleep. accommodation”.

The new concept comes after a number of developments in the European sleeper train network.

In December, the Austrian OBB announced a collaboration with German Deutsche Bahn, French SNCF and Swiss Federal Railways which will see the launch of a number of new “Nightjet” lines, as well as a sleeper train between Zurich and Barcelona, ​​over the next four years.

The recent resurgence has been in part linked to ‘flight shaming’, which has spread across Europe in recent years as passengers become more aware of their carbon footprint.

Domestic flights fell 9% in Sweden in 2018, while Dutch airline KLM ran ads urging people to fly less in 2019.

CNN’s Julia Buckley also contributed to this report.

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