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The renaissance of night trains in France is on its way!

During his speech for the French national day, on July 14th, president Emmanuel Macron announced his priorities for the coming years. Among them, a “massive plan” for rail freight, for the redevelopment of overnight trains and for small rural railway lines.

Later, the French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari announced that, as a first step, two night train routes will be relaunched by 2022 : these will be Paris to Nice and Paris to Tarbes (in the South-West). In the meanwhile, the rolling stock for the remaining lines from Paris to Briançon and Rodez/Toulouse/Latour-de-Carol/Portbou will be refurbished. For the moment, we do not have any precise informations about the restart of Paris-Nice and Paris-Tarbes, so we do not know which rolling stock will be used, if the trains will be daily, which operator will run these trains, if they will run attached to the already existing night trains, or if completely new trains will be created (which, for Paris-Tarbes, would allow for more capacity)… etc.

From April 2018

We will soon know more about all these details, when the French government will publish its report about the development of night trains, wich is expected to be released by the end of this summer. This report will detail the long-term stategy for night trains, possibly including perspectives for reopening of more lines in the coming decade, both national and international. So the reopening of Paris-Nice and Paris-Tarbes is only a first step forward: Maybe this is what can be done on the short run using the existing old rolling stock which will be refurbished, and a possible wider development will have to wait a few more years for the construction of new rolling stock.

The transport minister says he has “high ambitions for night trains”, so we hope that the mentioned report will be quite positive. We are trying to encourage this ambition by presenting our vision of what could be a possible network of national and international night trains in France in 2030. We have published a map of national lines here, and we will very soon publish an other map showing international connections.

We are calling for a 1.5 billion € investment in new night rolling stock, which would allow to develop a dense network of 15 national lines and 15 international lines.

The governement is now discussing with the Regions to know their interest in new night train services, and the choices will be made in the coming weeks. In late August, the governement will detail its recovery plan so we will likely know more at that moment… stay tuned !

A small selection of the press coverage:–s

3 thoughts on “The renaissance of night trains in France is on its way!”

  1. Joachim Falkenhagen

    I see less opportunities for intra-French routes from or to Paris due to the short distances and high speed lines than you did here . I would rather see opportunities for a “star” system focused on Paris, bringing in trains from the remote parts of the country, recoupling them in the middle of the night, and then spreading out again. This would require automatic coupling, self propelled coaches (at least for the slow speed required for rearrangig the trains) and a mix of classes within a railcar (travel will be insufficient for a full sleeper plus full couchette and full seating car for many combinations, and the step size for different levels of trafic would also be to large). Remember you do not need to serve station in the middle of the night (e.g. Brive), where hardly anynone would like to embark or disembark. Paris might be an exception.

  2. Joachim Falkenhagen

    Ca manque / missing on your map are
    Paris-Madrid (via Hendaye)
    and routes that primarily pass France without much local passengers, bypassing Paris:
    For some routes between two less populated regions of France, I would expect insufficient demand, but maybe suitable for non-daily operation

    1. Joachim Falkenhagen

      Routes from Brussels and Amsterdam should use the high speed rail tracks and thus not stop at Amiens or Reims.
      Routes to the Meditarranean should not pass Dijon, which is also not on the TGV line. Nancy is not served by the TGV track Paris-Strassbourg, and so is Chalon en Champagne. Such stops in the middle of the night would only disturb customers. Also add Paris-Vienna.

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