Night trains in France

Many have asked for an update, here it is.

– a daily two-branch train links Paris Austerlitz to Briançon (southern Alps) and Nice.
The branch to Nice is supposed to be cut down at the service change of december 2017.
The branch to Briançon will be affected by maintenance works next Fall, and will therefore be sometimes shortened, sometimes cancelled.

– a daily three-branch train links Paris Austerlitz and Les Aubrais (nearby Orléans) to Rodez / Toulouse / Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg
The branch to Toulouse goes further to Port-bou in Spain on weekends and vacations, at least for the coming two years.
This three-branch train will be affected by maintenance works in Limoges from September 2017, and up to now, they are not bookable and no one knows whether they will be cancelled or rerouted, maybe through Bordeaux or Périgueux.

– a daily train operated by Thello from Paris Gare de Lyon and Dijon to Milan, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Mestre and Venice.
This train will be affected by maintenance works in September and will leave Paris around 4pm on certain dates, and will only be bookable after August 10th.

– a weekly train from Paris to Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk and Moscow operated by RZD.
– a weekly train from Nice to Moscow operated by RZD.

– a daily train operated by Renfe from Hendaye to Lisbon (return goes from Lisbon to Irun).


It came to 45 minutes presentation and debate in the TRAN Committee on the 20.6. 2017.

Follow this link to listen to the debate. Select your language, and start at 01 hour15 min.

Mr. D. Dunmore presented very short the findings from the report. And many good members raised during the debate the many weak points in the report. Dunmore replied rather defensive and said that the consultants did not want to repeat all the stuff about climate and environment and the missing taxes on air traffic. That was already well known, he said!

Dunmore did also accept that a German survey found that 75% of night train passengers would replace the missing night train with an air travel. But referred again to the Swedish survey, where more people would take another train (a survey related to the very complex Lapland traffic).

From the debate you can say that night trains have their strong supporters in the parliament, but will that support make consequences in the real World? Will the good tendencies with the Austrian, UK and Swedish night trains on its own change the overall trend of decline in climate friendly night trains?

The TRAN Committee will continue with the issue, and that is very good, and the civil society shall continue to back up the political process. Support the Back-on-Track network!

Action week for night trains in France

– from June 29th to July 8th.

Assistance outside France is needed, see later.

– June 29th in Toulouse : a demonstration for public rail service (not only night trains)
– likely June 30th in Paris : demonstration for the (maybe) last departure of the night train to Hendaye/Irun (train called “la Palombe Bleue”)
– July 1st in Tarbes : demonstration for the (maybe) last departure of the night train from Hendaye back to Paris
– July 7th in Perpignan to welcome the night train to Paris coming back (date not sure yet)
– July 8th in Cerbère/Portbou to welcome the night train from Paris coming back (date not sure yet)
– maybe other actions, hopefully demonstrations could be organized on the Paris-Marseille-Toulon-Nice line…

Anyway all of these informations, and updated, can be found (in French) at

HELP US: It could be great to have pictures of people in various contries of Europe (for example in train stations, or in front of famous foreign landscapes), showing a sign with, for example, “Oui au train de nuit” written on it. If you could take such photographs (even one person alone can do it), it would enable us to show that we have support abroad 🙂

Bikes with the long distance trains

The last days has brought a demonstration in Paris to promote space for bikes in the Thalys HST. And then a demonstration in Zürich to promote more space for bikes in the ÖBB NightJet trains.

On June 7th, an action with bikes took place in front of the Thalys desk in Paris, to ask the company to allow bikes on its trains.

Thalys trains represent most of the long-distance rail traffic between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, but they do not allow bycicles. It is today harder than ever to travel with a bike between Paris and Amsterdam or Köln.

Yet the combination of train and bike is a key solution for a climate-friendly mobility in Europe.
When Thalys renovated its trains, protesters obtained that spaces for bikes were installed, but they have never been used because the company did not sell the tickets for bikes.
Protesters therefore ask the company to allow bikes on its trains, and asks the European Commission to ensure that freedom of movement across Europe also applies to cyclists.

German ruling parties turns around – better late than never!

There is a little revolution happening in Germany: the “big coalition” of christ democrats and social democrats in Germany is now lobbying for the night trains. They wrote a movement for “cooperation models” which you find attached (unfortunately in German only), and they want better conditions for the night trains on the EU level, a common European booking system and good alternatives for the former workers of the German night trains (= DB-ERS).

>> Find the paper here (only in German)

Comments by Joachim Holstein:
Looking back to the autumn of 2014, when we had a manifestation in Berlin, right across the DB Tower, when we pressured pro night and motorail trains and when the Left party had a debate in parliament about these trains? Back then, the ruling parties were kind of condescending and belittling our goals: »These nostalgics are out of time«, and so on. And, most important: they claimed that the owner of DB (the state) had no right to give advice (or orders) to the DB management.
At the hearing of February 15, 2017, new sounds could be heard. The CDU cared about the future of the night train employees, and also the SPD dug into the phenomenon that Austrian ÖBB were able to handle something successfully what had been rejected by DB before.
And now, all of a sudden, there is a parliamentary motion by the governing parties: »Strengten the co-operation models of night train services«!
The points are:
Government shall according to the proposal do several things:
  1. Government shall (on behalf of the owner, the state) suggest to DB management that the co-operation models shall be maintained, and that it shall be cheched if an expansion of the network is possible (in co-operation with other train companies
  2. Government shall ensure that new night train companies will have discrimination-free access to the tracks and the station
  3. Government shall, on the EU level, support a framework favorable for cross-border rail traffic including night trains by abolishing administrative and technical obstacles
  4. Government shall suggest to DB management that rolling stock which is not longer needed by DB will be offered to other train companies in a public bid on European level
  5. Government shall support the development of a universal booking platform/system which includes the tickets of several countries
  6. Government shall speak up to DB board of directors in favour of offering to the employees of DB night train company DB European Railservice new jobs, respecting social standards, inside DB or with other night train companies
  7. Government shall report to Parliament, once in a legislature of four years, about the development of night train traffic, including information on the pricing and the number of customers of all night train companies involved, and information about the intramodel competition conditions.
As you can see, your and our effort have shown some effect! Thank you to all who signed the petition, to all who spoke or mailed to their member of parliament or to the press, to all who participated in activities on platforms, in front of stations and anywhere else.
In some time, this motion will be discussed in Parliament, probably together with the – much more far-reaching – motion of the Left party. All this will happen in the middle of the election campaign for the next Bundestag. That is a good opportunity for making our standpoint heard.

THE END OF THE LINE – we don’t think so!

Proposals in relation to the TRAN report “Passengers night trains in Europe-the end of the line?”



A group of consultants have made a report about night trains on behalf of the European parliament committee on transport. It is called ”Passengers night trains in Europe – the end of the line.” Already the name indicates that it is a conventional report built on the current trends, which sooner or later will put an end to the night train era.

The study compiles a lot of data about the situation for night trains in Europe today, and even though some facts are wrong, it is an important piece of work. The main problem is that it lacks some of the most important information – and therefore it must be followed up with additional reports particularly about the following issues:

  • The environmental aspect comparing night trains and air travel
  • The cross border and European dimension of train travel
  • The dimension of a growing tourism market in Europe
  • The quality of travel with night trains compared to coaches.
  • The costs of international train travel.
  • The need for better booking opportunities.
  • Proposals for international PSO:s or other means of public support of these connections.

In the coming lines we will go deeper into these issues in relation to the report.

The environmental aspect comparing night trains and air travel

The most striking thing about this report is that it does not make a competent attempt on tackling the issue of climate change. Transport is one of the main contributors to climate change and especially growing air travel is a problem. Today there are no cost-effective solutions to make air traffic sustainable, not even in a 20 years perspective. To make the promises in the Paris agreement come true, European politicians must take measures to make more people take the train and reduce or at halt the increase in air and road traffic.

For long distance travel in Europe, trains are attractive alternatives when you can combine day and night trains. One example: When travelling from Copenhagen to Barcelona you could reach your destination next morning if you combine day and night trains. If you have to stay and sleep in hotels on the way, the travel will take up to 36 hours and be rather unpleasant.

In the report, night trains are mainly compared with day trains and coaches. Of course a night train cannot compete in energy use with a day train with many more seats. But for long distance travel passengers don’t want to sit in buses or wait in hotels. The alternative to the night train is the airplane that pollutes 20-60 times more (depending on stop-overs and how you count the climate impact of the air stream from the air planes).

The trains have to pay taxes that air carriers are exempted from. Airlines do not pay their share of VAT and energy taxes, and added to that they don’t pay their costs for climate. The attempts to integrate air traffic in the EU climate trading scheme has so far not been serious.

This means that airplanes have a subsidy that international trains don’t have and that the market is unfair. It is surprising that the study does not present this fact and does not propose ways to change it. Air travel taxes are discussed in many European countries today.

One way is of course to start taxing air travel with real climate taxes, on national and on EU level. While waiting for this it must be possible to compensate international trains for the unequal competition. The reference to some debate in the German parliament more than 20 years ago! (long before the climate consensus) is not a relevant argument in a report 2017.

The cross border and European dimension of train travel

The study discusses the night trains from a rather national perspective. This is problematic when it is paid for by the European parliament. One conclusion is that many countries can rely on day trains because the country is small enough to reach within a few hours. This is true – but Europe is bigger than each country by itself -and people want to travel all over the continent. Just because Denmark is small it doesn’t mean that the night train connection from Copenhagen to Prague, Basel and Amsterdam is not needed. This connection was closed down November 2014. This has made environmental friendly long distance travel from Norway, Sweden and Denmark to other European countries very difficult. The same goes for many other European connections.

A 12 hour rail journey Copenhagen – Brussels is not attractive to many in the daytime. But could it be made (as before) as 11 hours in the night train, a short change of train in Cologne and one hour high speed train to Brussels, it is much more attractive.

The EU-report does not see night trains as an integrated part of a railway network, but as competitors to day trains. The basic idea behind long distance night trains is, however:

  • Distances more than 700 km.
  • Good connections evening and morning to “feeder railway lines” – the last mile concept.
  • A real chance to sleep undisturbed for 7 or more hours.

Hereby a night train journey will only take one hour of your day: Half an hour to get asleep, half an hour to wake up with your morning coffee.

Night trains have been and can continue to be part of building European cooperation and contacts. Generations of young people got to know Europe by Interrail including night connections. The night train from Cologne via Berlin to Warsaw and Prague that was cancelled last December was a real European east-west connection with an all-European atmosphere. Just to mention an example.

It is strange and disappointing that the international train connections in Europe are in much worse condition than it was at the start of the first EU railway package. Now we have seen four packages and still it is harder than ever to book and travel by train between parts of Europe. The closing down of night trains is one important part of this decline.

In a climate friendly Europe where we have to reduce air travel, night trains are necessary. Without these trains, effective cross-border travel between all parts of Europe -also the remote – is much more difficult. The study is in line with today’s back-to-nationalism trend, something the European Union must do its utmost to overcome. The promotion and support of modern all European night trains would be a good way to combine climate responsibility with the opportunity for Europeans to travel and cooperate all over the continent.

The dimension of a growing tourism market in Europe

One aspect of the report is the negative understanding of who is travelling with night trains. It is highlighted that business travellers don’t use these trains a lot. The study is weak on this point and does not explain the good examples on this field. For example how the night train between Stockholm and Malmö was made commercial by special agreements with cities and businesses.

A study conducted in Sweden on passengers and their alternative travelling options from June-July 2015 is the sole data set used to show all about night train passengers. It is a very weak data set. However, in June 2013 Deutsche Bahn (DB) made a survey in the Copenhagen CNL-train. Without the night train 3/4 said they had to fly, and the remaining 1/4 would find other means or not travel. Numbers from the train tells us an average occupancy of 63%, and almost 100% in the tourist season. Expensive sleeping car accommodation sold better than the cheaper couchette car.

The EU study shortly concludes that night trains are used for leisure and tourism, and seems to consider this as a problem. The airline industry thrives with these new costumers. The truth is that the leisure and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe. Many tourists take the train and there is also a growing interest in train travel.

One recent study in Sweden tells about a growing number of global tourists that take the night train to north Sweden to experience snow, darkness, northern lights and midnight sun. The EU study tells about a decline in Swedish night train travels, but that is because the statistic run only to 2014. In 2015 and 2016 the number of international passengers grew and turned the numbers up, and this is one reason why the Swedish authorities in December 2016 decided to continue with two trains to northern Sweden every night.

The Tourism Association in Sweden reacted strongly when the night connection to Jämtland was reduced. More than 56 000 people signed a petition. This is one reason why the Swedish government recently decided to restart the daily night connections to Jämtland from 2018.

These examples are made possibly because we have access to data from the Swedish authority Trafikverket. Similar studies are necessary from other parts of Europe. Cooperation with the tourism industry is necessary and crucial in the continued work in the European parliament.

The quality of travel with night trains compared to coaches

As we already mentioned the study compares travel between trains and buses (coaches), and concludes that buses can be cheap, efficient and competitive. This is of course true especially when it comes to travels of 2-5 hours. But we don’t think this is a realistic alternative for long distance travel. To sit in a bus for 24 hours or more is not comfortable and will only be an alternative when there are no flights, no night trains or the trains are too expensive.

If a real portion of today’s air passengers shall be convinced to change their travel behavior a 24 hours bus rides is not a realistic approach. Modern night trains in combination with high speed day trains would be a much better alternative.

German Railroads (DB) has tried to run their day trains during night to compensate for the real night trains that stopped last year. This is of course a better alternative than airplanes and buses, but it does not compensate for trains with real beds. Rumors say that not so many passengers choose the night trains with seats only, and a further study should look into this.

One important part of night train travel is the possibility to walk to the restaurant to eat, drink and meet other travellers. This does not mean that every coach needs their own attendant as has been the case in most CNL trains and in other night trains. The study mentions that some night trains needed up to 20 employees, but in reality many night trains in Europe operate very well with only 4-5 employees. Self catering with beds and linen is easy to do. But friendly and service minded staff can make you feel so much welcome. Few included services as WiFi, water, breakfast and functioning toilets and showers are basic facilities in 2017.

The cost of international train travel

One reason that people abandon international trains are the high costs for travelling. Local and even national trains are often subsidized and have special fares (like BahnCard), which makes fares reasonable. But international trains do not have these subsidies and discounts. The price difference sometimes is ridiculous. In May 2017 it is four times more expensive to take the train Stockholm – Berlin than to take the flight. This is based on the cheapest tickets available.

Some reasons for the high costs is shown in the report. For example track access charges that sometimes are higher than the real costs, extra charges when operating in more than one country and charges to reach inner cities in the morning rush hour. The EU must find solutions for these things, some are underway, more can be done.

One important conclusion in the report is that the night train fleet is getting older and that it will be expensive to build new coaches, especially in a deregulated market where operators don’t have guarantees to continue the traffic until the investment costs are paid. One possibility is that the European Union invests in a fleet of modern night coaches that operators can rent during the time they run the traffic.

The need for better booking opportunities

It is today almost impossible to book international train tickets online. This is in sharp contrast to air tickets that can be purchased to any destination in a few minutes. Until recently Deutsche Bahn made it possible to book to many other countries, but after the closing down of the DB night trains this opportunity has eroded drastically.

There are many Europeans who would like to travel environmental friendly – but many don´t get a real opportunity to do so. The first step should be to make it easier to book long distance train tickets. If the European Union cannot build their own system now, there are many private companies that can do it, if only national train companies give them access. EU must put strong pressure on the national states to make this possible.

Important is also the dimension of the passenger’s rights. If one international train is late, it should be easy to connect to a later train in the next country without extra costs. If the whole journey is distorted there must be economic compensation, so that the passenger can change to another train, coach or airplane to reach his destination in time.

Summary of proposals:

We ask the European Union; both the commission and the parliament to investigate and find solutions concerning the following issues:

  • The environmental aspect comparing night trains and air travel and what level of rail traffic would be necessary to fulfill the Paris treaty.
  • The cross border and European dimension of train travel. What can be done to develop a Trans- European train network with day and night connections?
  • The night train possibilities in a growing tourism and leisure market in Europe must be investigated. Interaction with travel agencies and national tourist organisations is needed to develop the potential of growing rail tourism in Europe.
  • The quality of the travel experience with night trains compared with other means of transport must be recognized.
  • Air travel shall be imposed with a fair taxation scheme.
  • Investigate methods to support night trains; for example by EU investments in a modern fleet of night trains cars that operators can rent during their procurement years; and/or international PSO:s for a Trans-European rail network.
  • Improvement of booking opportunities. The EU and the member states must make it easy to book international train tickets.
  • The social, economic and environmental benefits which night trains can bring to a region, especially if it has no, or few, high speed trains.

Authors: Lars Igeland, Poul Kattler,

List of European Night Trains

The list is not complete, contributions and corrections are received with thank!

>> Take also a look at Per Eric Rosén’s fine map of night trains (on Wiki)

We are looking for the chances to keep a one-to-one relation between Per’s map and the information brought here on this page.

Regarding subsidies: Except the Russian trains, all cross border trains are (partly) operating on “free traffic”. Domestic Night trains are mostly subsidized, but not all. No private operators (except UK) are subsidized.

The ÖBB network

Regular NightJet services which are:

Wien-Bregenz (domestic)

Villach-Feldkirch (domestic)

Graz-Feldkirch (domestic)





Wien-Rome/Milano (runs via Klagenfurt or via Salzburg)


Wien-Livorno (seasonal)


The EuroNight partnerships in collaboration with Balkan/East European countries:

Prague – Wien/Budapast (EN Metropol) also a section Budapest-Warszawa

München – Zagreb/Rijeka (EN Lisinski)


>> Advices to reach NightJet line from Britain (via Cologne)


Swedish night trains

SJ-nighttrain (Malmö-Stockholm)

SJ-nighttrain (Göteborg-Stockholm-Duved and Luleå)

The Polar Circle Express / SJ Norrlandståg (Stockholm-Kiruna-Narvik/Luleå)

Snälltåget in Sweden, seasonal (Malmö-Stockholm-Storlien/Röjan)

Berlin Night Express, seasonal (Malmö-Berlin) – operated by Snälltåget


In Norway (NSB)

Bergensbanen (Oslo-Bergen),

Sørlandsbanen (Oslo-Stavanger),

Dovrebanen (Oslo-Trondheim) and

Nordlandsbanen (Trondheim-Bodø)


In Finland (VR)





In Poland (PKP)




Gdynia/Warszawa/Szczecin-Zakopane (separate trains)





French lines – INTERCITÉS DE NUIT (couchettes only)

Paris – Toulouse – La-Tour-de-Carol (daily)

Paris – Rodez (daily)

Paris – Briançon (daily)

Paris – Perpignan – Port-Bou (runs only on Fridays, Sundays and during vacations)


Italian lines (Treni Notte)

Rome – Palermo/Syracuse (Lonely Planet: Super Sleeper Train)  ## NEWS##


Milano-Roma-Palermo/Siracusa (a VERY long run)






Lecce-Roma (not daily)

Bolzano-Verona-Roma (not daily)


Russian services to Western Europe



Moscow-Berlin (Talgo)


Other Eastern European locations

Wien – Budapest – Braşov – Bucureşti Nord, is called “Dacia”, a Romanian train

Bucureşti – Curdici (at the Hungarian border) – Wien, “Ister”

Braşov – Budapest, “Corona”

Bucureşti – Chişinău

Cheb – Košice

Cheb – Hummené

Prague – Košice- Kiev

Prague – Warszawa

Prague – Budapest

Bratislava-Kiev (R 801)


Bucureşti-Kiev (once a week)

Beograd – Sofia

Beograd – Bar (Montenegro)

Sofia – Istanbul (Sirkeci)

in season:
Prague – Split

Prague – Bar

Domestic Romanian trains with sleepers/couchettes:
Bucureşti-Oradea-Satu Mare
Bucureşti-Baia Mare/Bistrița/Cluj
Bucureşti-Sighetu Marmației
Bucureşti-Vatra Dornei
Timişoara-Iaşi (2 daily overnight trains)

Great Britain

Caledonian Sleeper: London-Glasgow/Edinburgh and further north to Fort William/Inverness/Aberdeen

Night Riviera Sleeper: London-Penzance


Trenhotel (in Spain and Portugal)

Madrid – A Coruña – Pontevedra, Rias Gallegas”

Madrid – Ferrol, “Atlántico”

Barcelona – A Coruña / Vigo, “Galicia”

Madrid – Lisbon, “Lusitania”

Lisbon – Hendaye (border to France)


Private and seasonal operations – often with car transport

Thello, Paris-Venice

BTE AutoReiseZug Hamburg-Lörrach

UrlaubsExpress, Hamburg-München-Innsbruck-Verona or Hamburg-München-Salzburg-Villach

EE-Autozug from Düsseldorf (Germany) to Livorno/Verona (Italy)

Optima Express Autoreisezug, Villach (Austria) – Edirne (Turkey)

Astra Trans Carpatic from Arad to Bucureşti Nord via Sighişoara and Braşov

RegioJet Prague – Košice (from 17.12.17 with new sleeper cars!)

Schnee Express, Hamburg – Bludenz/Schwarzach, also a variation from Holland under the brand “Ski Train”

EU Commissioner Bulc not very well informed about night trains

Inspired from a question and answer last year German MEP Fabio de Masi have asked the commisioner this (26.1. 2017):

In which EU Member States do national or regional governments support (international) night train connections through various types of subsidies, and is it possible to find out which connections these are?

Which Member States have introduced lower track access tariffs?

Are these lower tariffs related to the maximum speed, the number of passengers or a particular time period (for example, will such reductions be applied only at certain times during the night)?

Answer from Mrs. Bulc (13.3. 2017):

The Commission does not have access to data on which national or regional governments support night train connections and as a result nor does it have an overview of the situation across Europe, in relation to which connections are subsidised.

To our knowledge some Member States (e.g. the United Kingdom or Sweden) have opted for subsidising night train connections in the form of a public service obligation (PSO).

As regards track access charges, according to the French infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau, France has introduced lower track access charges for night trains for both national and international journeys compared to the charges for day trains. In Spain, according to the Spanish infrastructure manager ADIF, night trains pay only track access charges in the form of direct costs, with no mark ups.

Other Member States like Italy and Germany have indicated that they plan to implement differentiated night charging. According to the Italian infrastructure manager RFI, lower night track access charges in Italy would apply for long distance PSO services only. According to the German infrastructure manager DB Netze, the new charging system in Germany will provide for lower track access charges during night hours.

Bike carriage on long-distance trains

The European Cyclist’ Federation has made a collection of good practice examples from across Europe that give cyclists a smile:


It is possible to get more people to use long-distance and international rail services and thereby help to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in EU – and it only takes seven simple steps.

Today, on the 13th March 2017, European Cycling Federation (ECF) has launched its new report called ‘Bikes and Trains: 7 basic services that give cyclists a smile‘. The report lists seven main services that should be in place in order to encourage railway customers to combine bicycle and long distance and international and train trips, and chose this alternative over private motor vehicles for seamless door-to-door trips. Besides listing these seven services, the report also provides best practice examples from across Europe. It is based on a position paper ‘Bike and Train: A European Odyssey’ that ECF published in 2012 and that highlighted a need to for railway companies to meet the basics requirements of cyclists. Since then, many improvements have been made, however, even more is still to be done.

‘EU has set clear goals to decarbonise the transportation sector and to move towards more sustainable modes of transport. Trains and bicycles have a great potential in replacing less sustainable modes, such as private motor vehicles. However, attractive services have to be offered to influence people’s travel choices’ – commented Ádám Bodor, Advocacy Director of the ECF.

While the EU’s goal is to limit GHG emissions, since 1990 transport GHG emissions have in fact increased by about 20 %. Even though trains offer much more sustainable solution compared to air travelling or private motor vehicles, railways’ share of the modal split has grown insignificantly over the past 20 years. Therefore, this report aims at encouraging railway companies to follow the best practice examples not only to put a smile on the faces of cyclists but also to get more people to use their services.

‘We have tried to provide a guide for everybody. For the rail operators, it gives an overview of the measures that should be implemented in order to encourage combining bike and train trips and, ultimately, attract more passengers to the railways. For the cycling enthusiasts and lobbyists it highlights the good practices already available in parts of Europe and hopefully provides some inspiration about what should be achievable in their country. While for decision makers it shows that combining bikes and trains can be a successful mobility choice if the right measures are put in place’ – said one of the authors of this report Ed Lancaster, ECF Cycling Tourism and Regional Policy Officer.

>> See the full report

From the hearing at German Bundestag 15.2. 2017

The word which could be heard most was »co-operation«. DB wants to cooperate with ÖBB, ÖBB wants to cooperate with DB, and everybody emphasized that night trains only work when various train companies cooperate.

ÖBB is very happy with their new night trains and say that the sleeping cars are overrun by travellers. DB seems to be happy with their seated cars. Both point out that the discrimination of train travel due to high VAT, energy taxes and other framework should be ended.

In sharp contrast to the hearing two years ago was the fact that there were no hostile or disdainful commentary by the ruling parties about the night trains. There were questions about the »Luna Liner« project – and there was a question about the perspectives of our crew members who lost their jobs. I (Joachim) could point out that we would like to be part of that cooperation between DB and ÖBB and that nobody understands why DB did not offer jobs to all of us on their »new« night trains (which are not new, but our old seated car sections of the CNL night trains).

For this short summary: Joachim Holstein

>> See statements of the experts

>> Official press report of Bundestag

Here is a longer version in German:

Liebe Nachtzug-Interessierten,

heute hat ja bekanntlich die zweite Anhörung zum Thema Nachtzüge im Ausschuss für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur des Bundestages stattgefunden – formell ging es um den Antrag “Die Nachtzüge retten – Klimaverträglichen Fernreiseverkehr auch in Zukunft ermöglichen” (, und eingeladen waren:

– Joachim Holstein von der DB ERS (quasi für uns als Nachtzug-Fans)
– Kurt Bauer von der ÖBB, die ja seit Dezember den “NightJet” betreibt
– Berthold Huber von der DB Fernverkehr AG
– Marco Bellmann von der TU Dresden

Die Stellungnahmen der vier Sachverständigen sind hier zu finden:

Die Anhörung war insgesamt erstaunlich produktiv; entgegen den sonstigen Gepflogenheiten ging es nicht um Parteipolitik und “Bashing” der anderen Fraktionen, sondern auch die Vertreter_innen der großen Koalition schienen ernsthaft an den Sachfragen zu den Nachtzügen interessiert zu sein.

Herr Huber von der DB und Herr Bauer von der ÖBB haben mehrfach betont, wie gut doch die Zusammenarbeit zwischen beiden Bahnen sei und dass der “NightJet” ohne tatkräftige Hilfe der DB nie zustande gekommen wäre.

Wenn das so ist, dann können wir als Aktive für die Nachtzüge wohl auch ein bisschen auf die Schulter klopfen, dass wir immerhin genügend Druck aufgebaut haben, dass auch die DB gesehen hat, dass sie die Züge nicht einfach so heimlich still und leise verschwinden lassen kann wie geplant. Aber es ändert natürlich auch nichts an der Tatsache, dass viele der Züge nach wie vor extrem fehlen.

Die Frage, warum nun die ÖBB mit dem “NightJet” hinbekommt, was die DB mit ihren Nachtzügen nicht hinbekommen hat, stand natürlich für alle im Raum – und konnte aus meiner Sicht nicht zufriedenstellend beantwortet werden. Huber betonte mehrfach, dass die ÖBB für die Nachtzüge eine bessere “Produktionsplattform” hätten und die DB für die nächtlichen ICs – und jeder produziere halt das am billigsten, was er gut kann. Das erklärt aber für mich noch nicht, warum eine DB-Tochter (DB ERS) nicht genau das kann, was eine ÖBB-Tochter ebenso kann – nämlich Schlaf- und Liegewagen vernünftig betreiben, zumal es an den Tarifen tatsächlich nicht zu hängen scheint. Und erst recht erklärt es für mich nicht, warum es günstiger sein soll, getrennte Züge zum Schlafen und Sitzen fahren zu lassen anstatt beides in einem Zug anzubieten und dadurch Synergien zu nutzen.

Beide Bahnchefs befürworten aber generell Kooperationen zwischen Bahnen für solche Züge – und vertreten sogar die (aus meiner Sicht sehr richtige) Auffassung, dass Züge nur in Kooperation statt in Konkurrenz zueinander gut betrieben werden können. Nur für die Verkehre nach Frankreich sehen sie leider keine Möglichkeit, da die dortige SNCF völlig gegen Nachtzüge eingestellt ist und die Bedingungen deswegen so schlecht macht, dass sich Nachtzüge beim besten Willen – das sieht auch Herr Bauer von der ÖBB so – nicht wirtschaftlich betreiben lassen.

Zur Sprache kamen auch wieder die leidlich bekannten widrigen politischen Rahmenbedingungen der Nachtzüge (schon thematisiert – und wie üblich abgelehnt – in diesem Antrag: Das bleibt ein ungelöstes Problem, und es wäre hilfreich, wenn beide Bahnen – DB und ÖBB – hier viel mehr Druck auf die Politik machen würden; Stichwort Mehrwertsteuer, Energiesteuer, EEG-Umlage, Kerosinsteuerbefreiung usw. – die meisten hier kennen das ja bestens.

Auch für die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter von den Nachtzügen hat sich leider keine neue Perspektive ergeben. Einige sind schon bei der DB AG woanders untergekommen oder zu anderen Bahnunternehmen gewechselt, aber viele warten jetzt innerhalb des DB-Konzerns auf eine neue Stelle, die für sie deutlich schlechtere Bedingungen haben kann. Dabei wären all diese Menschen für den Betrieb der “NightJet”-Züge prädestiniert gewesen; aber das dortige, auf das österreichische Rentensystem abgestimmte Tarifsystem ist für sie alles andere als attraktiv.

Ärgerlich finde ich immer wieder, dass das Gerede von der “fallenden Nachfrage” nicht tot zu kriegen ist – davon hat Herr Huber heute auch wieder gesprochen, obwohl die Zahlen eine völlig andere Sprache sprechen: Sowohl im Schlaf- und Liegewagen- als auch im Sitzwagen-Bereich hat die Nachfrage in den letzten Jahren – bis zur Abschaffung der DB-Nachzüge (und bei der ÖBB auch seitdem) – zugenommen; regelmäßig waren Züge schon Wochen im Voraus nicht buchbar. Aber es klingt eben immer nach einer logischen Geschichte, dass man die Nachtzüge in Zeiten von immer mehr Hochgeschwindigkeitsverkehr einfach wegen der Nachfrage nicht mehr betreiben könne – was aber in Wirklichkeit extrem von den Strecken abhängt und für die noch bis Dezember verbliebenen Nachtzugstrecken definitiv nicht galt.

Und völlig beratungsresistent zeigt sich leider wieder einmal die Bundesregierung. Der parlamentarische Staatssekretär Enak Ferlemann (CDU) behauptete wieder einmal, dass die technischen Unterschiede das große Problem im Bahnbereich seien und dass man diese nur auf EU-Ebene weiter beseitigen müsste, um den grenzüberschreitenden Bahnverkehr voranzubringen. Als hätte es nicht vor Jahrzehnten ein viel dichteres Netz von – in Kooperation erbrachten – grenzüberschreitenden Verbindungen gegeben und als würden diese nicht seit den entsprechenden Regelungen der EU (“Eisenbahnpakete”) und der reinen Orientierung auf Wettbewerb immer weniger werden.

Soweit als kurzer Bericht; vielleicht ergänzen die vielen anderen, die mit dabei waren, auch noch einiges, was ich vergessen habe.

By Bernhard Knierim of “Bahn für alle” (“Railway for all”)