Tickets for the first passenger service on a brand new generation of Austrian night trains are due to go on sale on 11 October to be debuted in December 2023.
The Austrian rail firm ÖBB already runs the largest fleet of sleeper trains in Europe and plans to double its overnight passenger count from 1.5 million to 3 million by 2030. Now it marks its centenary year with an order for 33 of the new trains, hailed as “pure luxury”, from German manufacturer Siemens, at a cost of 720 million euros. But what do they offer?
New design, more privacy
The new stock features an updated design, with increased privacy and more facilities. Two-person compartments are all equipped with their own own toilet and shower. Single-occupancy compartments also now exist, for individual travellers who prefer not to have to share with strangers.
These “mini cabins” allow solo passengers to close off their own pod within a couchette car. The small but perfectly formed space includes a mirror, a foldaway breakfast table, reading lamp, storage and lockers.
The seven-carriage trains will be made up of two seating cars, three couchettes and two sleeping cars, and can take up to 254 passengers. An accessible couchette, sleeping up to two wheelchair users plus two more people, with a specially-adapted toilet, will be available.
In addition, there will be spots for bulky luggage, sports equipment, children’s pushchairs and prams, as well as six bike slots.
Other changes include fixed beds, which the ÖBB says will be more comfortable.
Die neuen Nightjets sind da! 🔥 Highlights, auf die ihr euch im Sitzwagen freuen könnt:— ÖBB (@unsereOEBB) October 3, 2023
👉 Mehrfach verstellbare Sitze
👉 Gepäcksicherung mit NFC od. PIN
👉 Lademöglichkeiten: USB, Steckdose & induktiv
👉 Rad- & Kinderwagenplätze
Das ist die #NightjetNewGen 😍
© ÖBB / Eisenberger pic.twitter.com/DgVyqUvSwY
Running on renewables
Passengers will also sleep easier, thanks to the green credentials of travel by overnight train. All ÖBB trains since 2018 “run on electricity generated exclusively by hydropower, solar and wind power… a milestone for climate protection in Austria,” ÖBB says.
Echoing that pro-climate messaging, Austria’s Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler told AFP: “Every kilometre by train is a kilometre for climate protection and… a contribution to a better future.”
The future of travel
As Europe grapples with the ethics of short-haul flights and though rail networks have in fact been shrinking across Europe, Gewessler expressed no doubts about the benefits of rail over skies: “The future of short and medium haul travel belongs to the train,” she added. “Taking the train means protecting the climate. This is particularly true for night trains. That’s why we are working together to further expand the European night train network.”
Many voyagers will never have had the opportunity to experience a night train, but a woman attending the unveiling of ÖBB’s new night trains on Saturday said: “I still remember the old sleeping coaches, which were so dark – the small window, the bunk beds and a curtain.” Looking around the new train, she said, “this is crazy – pure luxury”.
The trains are authorised for use in Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland and are due to enter service on December 10 on the Vienna-Hamburg and Innsbruck-Hamburg routes. France will take longer to see them arrive due to the approvals needed.