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SBB looks at options to reintroduce night trains

SWITZERLAND: Swiss Federal Railways is examining options for reintroducing overnight services to a range of European destinations. Armin Weber, Head of International Passenger Services, told Schweizer Radio & Fernsehen on May 30 that SBB had identified a market need and was looking at potential routes.

If SBB decided to re-enter the overnight market, it would partner with Austrian Federal Railways, said Weber, explaining that two or three years would elapse before SBB could launch any services as new rolling stock would be needed. ÖBB has a fleet of 13 new overnight trains on order which are expected to enter service in 2022.

SBB withdrew from the overnight business in 2009 and Deutsche Bahn ended its City Night Line services in 2016.

Some of DB’s services were taken over by ÖBB which was convinced that the overnight rail market in Europe had a future. Rebranded as Nightjet, ÖBB’s overnight trains have proved successful, reportedly breaking even as traffic grew from 1∙4 million passengers in 2017 to 1∙6 million last year, with 1∙8 million expected in 2019.

Low-cost flights have taken much of the market once held by overnight rail in Europe, but environmental concerns are thought to be one factor fuelling the rebirth of night trains. Earlier this year the Swedish government announced that it was supporting plans for the reintroduction of overnight trains to various European destinations, and in the UK new rolling stock is being introduced on Caledonian Sleeper services between London and Scotland.

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