Open letter to the French and Italian governments and to the EU
to save the night train Paris-Milan-Venice
letter sent to:
Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, French transport minister
Jean Castex, French Prime Minister
Enrico Giovannini, Italian minister of sustainable
infrastructure and mobility
Mario Draghi, Italian Prime Minister
Adina Vălean, European Transport Commissionner
Thello railway company has announced that its Paris-Milan-Venice night train, already suspended since spring 2020 due to the pandemic, will not resume service. While the French government communicates on the revival of night trains,we regret the lack of support for this essential connection and we call on the French and Italian governments and the European Union to act.
On May 20th, 2021, French Prime Minister Jean Castex inaugurated the returnof the Paris-Nice night train, vowing “that this reopening will lead to many others”.
One month later, Thello (a subsidiary of the Italian national railway company Trenitalia) announced the definitive end of its Paris-Milan-Venice night train. This line, which represented a real link between France and Italy, made it possible to travel without taking a plane and without spending entire days on the train (a Paris-Venice trip by day train takes more than 10 hours).
This night train was insufficiently supported by France. It suffered from a lack of visibility: since the end of joint management by SNCF and Trenitalia, it was no longer displayed on SNCF sales channels, which complicated the purchase of tickets and limited the possibilities of connections. At the ticket desk, no information was given about the existence of this train. The passenger was even told at the departure from Paris “there is no more train tonight, you have to wait until tomorrow”… while the night train was waiting on the platform. The traffic was very affected by the maintenance works, which are not coordinated between the French, Swiss and Italian networks, which often delayed the opening of sales.
Border controls were causing important delays
because they were carried out during a long stop in the middle of the night, instead of at the start or while driving, as on the high-speed trains.
And yet, this train was very popular both with families and groups who could travel in couchette compartments at affordable prices (starting at €29 per person), and with business travelers and wealthier tourists who could enjoy private cabins with showers. Far from being a niche market, this night train carried up to 300,000passen gers per year, with an occupancy rate over 85%.
At a time of climate emergency, and as the European Union has declared 2021 “European Year of Rail”, we cannot let this night train disappear in indifference, thus sending passengers back to the plane, which is the most polluting of all means of transportation. The mobilization of the French and Italian governments and the European Union is expected to restore this essential line as soon as possible. Thenatio nal company Trenitalia has announced that it will take over some of the daytime connections abandoned by Thello, and there is no reason the same could not be done for the night train, for example in cooperation between SNCF and Trenitalia. Action by the public authorities is also necessary to support the development of other routes from France, and not only from Paris.
Note that Paris-Milan-Venice is one of the corridors studied by the to develop night trains by 2030. The government’s report on the subject, published in May 2021, even envisages its doubling in two trains to optimize service to Milan and Turin.
The French start-up “Midnight Trains” has also announced a potential night train between Paris and Italy or Spain. However, this train would be a high-end one.
Moreover, it would not cover all needs, and it would not arrive before 2024, whereas the Paris-Venice night train, whose carriages are already available and offer levels of comfort accessible to all, could be put back on tracks right away.
- French activist group « Oui au train de nuit » (Yes to the night train)
- ASSOUTENTI-UTP, Italian national association of users of public services
- European network « Back-on-Track »
- Association « Back-on-Track Belgium »
- Association « European Rail Campaign (UK) »
Press contact or to co-sign this letter:
+33 6 68 75 26 37