The German Bundestag election is taking place 26th September, and yesterday a group of Members of the Bundestag (MdBs) and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Grüne (Green Party) released a new map and paper about their plans for night trains in Europe post-election.

The plans are available on a micro-site published by Matthias Gastel here, there is a summary of the plans in English as a PDF here, and the German paper Die Zeit has an assessment of the plans as well.

There are two parts of the plans: 5 political points, and a route map.

1️⃣Network that connects European big cities & holiday regions
This one is essentially about Germany’s central role, geographically, but that night trains need to be planned EU-wide – and a Eurocontrol for rail could do this. Good, but hard to do short term…

2️⃣Comfortable, fast & quiet night trains
This one focuses on design (200-250km/h trains) and finance (foresees a role for the EIB in ordering new night trains)
This is pretty much what we’re demanding here at Trains for Europe!

3️⃣Customer-friendly booking platform
That customers need to be able to book through tickets – with a component on a night train – is obvious, but how to do this is tricky. We’re not sure a unified booking platform is the only way to do this (or the easiest way)

4️⃣Marginal costs for the use of the rail infra
This is a really important one, and is – after rolling stock – the biggest hurdle for night trains. So reducing track access charges to foster night trains is good. We’re glad this is included!

5️⃣Fair competition between aircraft and rail
Ethically correct, but the hardest nut to crack – this needs a view of the transport system as a whole, not just rail. Ethically this makes sense, but it’s a long term aspiration

 

And then to the proposed routes

We’ve taken each line shown (there are a couple of numbering oddities!) and assessed each of them

⏱ Trip time
⚙️ Technical complexity
💶 Market potential

And an overall Feasibility score out of 10

NOTE that ALL the routes proposed are intended to be new routes – so some of the already-existing connections, especially those to/from Austria, are not included on the map!

N1 🟡
Oslo/Stockholm – Berlin – Prague
⏱ 16 hours, reduce to 13 hours by 2030
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems, signalling and capacity on Øresund bridge complex
💶 Very good, but Stockholm-Berlin exists already
Feasibility: 8/10

N1 🔴
Copenhagen – Munich – Innsbruck
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Very good, but Hamburg-Innsbruck exists already
Feasibility: 9/10

N2 🔵
Prague – Kraków – Lviv
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 2 track gauges, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Medium
Feasibility: 3/10
(It would make more sense to run this one to Przemysl in Poland, and change there for Lviv – then no gauge change needed)

N3 🟣
Berlin – Vilnius (extend to Riga, Tallinn)
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Medium
Feasibility: 6/10
(This one depends on Rail Baltica being constructed)

N4 🔴
Berlin – Cologne – Brussels – Paris
⏱ 10 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Very good, but Berlin-Paris not passing through Belgium is planned to launch in 2022 anyway
Feasibility: 8/10

N5 🟡
Berlin – Prague – Vienna – Zagreb (extend to Split)
⏱ 14 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good, but Berlin-Vienna via Wroclaw exists already.
Feasibility: 7/10

N6 🟢
Berlin – Munich – Innsbruck – Venice/Rome
⏱ 16 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good, but Rome is at the moment a very long trip! Venice is feasible though
Feasibility: 7/10

N7 🟣
Munich – Lyon – Barcelona (extend to Valencia)
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good, but the Perpignan-Barcelona high speed line could present problems. France always problematic.
Feasibility: 6/10
(I’d have started this one in Frankfurt instead. A route through Switzerland from Munich would be shorter than via Strasbourg, but Switzerland is complex as non-EU)

N8 🟡
Amsterdam – Cologne – Frankfurt – Milan
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Very good, but it routes through Switzerland – problematic. Amsterdam-Zürich starts this year, covers a large part of the route.
Feasibility: 7/10

N9 🟣
Amsterdam – Berlin – Warsaw
⏱ 11 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 9/10
(Might make sense to route via Ruhr or Cologne, even if trip time were a little longer)

N10 🟣
Stockholm – Frankfurt – Zürich
⏱ 16 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 8/10
(To Zürich is too far, but Stockholm-Frankfurt ought to be viable)

N12 🟢
Vienna – Paris – Bordeaux
⏱ 16 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 6/10
(A Vienna-Paris night train is starting this year. To make it to Bordeaux in time you’d need to use high speed lines in France – hell for approvals)

N13 🟢
(Extend from Malaga) – Madrid – Barcelona – Milan
⏱ 10 hours(?)
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 4/10
(This one is hell. You’d have to use high speed lines in Spain, so would need a 250km/h+ train. Or you use old lines, but that’d need a dual gauge train, and trip time too long. BCN-Milan might work though.)

N14 🟡
Hamburg – Frankfurt – Lyon – Marseille
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good (could be quite seasonal)
Feasibility: 7/10
(If this did not run on French high speed lines the trip time is very long – scale back to Frankfurt perhaps?)

N15 🟢
London – Brussels – Berlin – Warsaw
⏱ 17 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 1/10
(Not a hope in hell this happens. Operationally far too complex due to Channel Tunnel. Better scale back to Brussels-Warsaw)

N16 🟣
London – Brussels – Cologne – Frankfurt – Vienna
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 1/10
(Not a hope in hell this happens, same as N15. Brussels-Vienna already exists)

N17 🔵
Barcelona – Paris – London/Brussels/Amsterdam/Cologne
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 4 ⚡️ systems, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 1/10
(Not a hope in hell this happens, same as N15. Barcelona-Paris would be a start, possibly extended to Brussels and Amsterdam)

N18 🟡
London – Paris – Lyon – Milan – Florence – Rome
⏱ 15 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 4 ⚡️ systems, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 1/10
(Not a hope in hell this happens, same as N15. Paris-Rome or Paris-Milan would be a good start!)

N19 🔴
Frankfurt – Munich – Ljubljana – Zagreb – Belgrade
⏱ 16 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 6/10
(Munich – Zagreb has run for many years, but is being scaled back. Starting in Frankfurt could work. Infra to Belgrade needs upgrades.)

N20 🟡
Warsaw – Vienna – Innsbruck
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 7/10
(Warsaw-Vienna by night train exists, extending to Innsbruck – questionable market share. Might extending to Munich make more sense?)

N21 🔴
Porto/Lisbon/Faro – Madrid – Barcelona – Marseille
⏱ 15 hours
⚙️ 2 track gauges, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 1/10
(This is operational hell – you need a 2-gauge train, and then probably also need to run on high speed lines! The best bet to connect Portugal is Lisbon-Madrid with a daytime train, and Lisbon-Hendaye overnight)

N22 🔵
Milan/Venice – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest
⏱ 13 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 7/10
(Milan/Venice-Vienna already has a night train – is there a market to extend it to Bratislava and Budapest?)

N23 🔵
Berlin – Frankfurt – Milan – Genoa (extend to Nice)
⏱ 14 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Very good, but it routes through Switzerland – problematic. Route via Munich and Brenner Pass instead?
Feasibility: 8/10

N24 🟢
Glasgow – Birmingham/Edinburgh – London – Paris – Frankfurt
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Very good
Feasibility: 1/10
(Not a hope in hell this happens, same as N15.)

N25 🔵
Belgrade – Skopje – Athens
⏱ 12 hours(?)
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 1 ⚡️ system
💶 Unknown
Feasibility: 6/10
(This used to run, but infra is in such a poor state it’s unknown if it could run again, and the scale of the market is likewise unknown)

N26 🔵
Vienna – Budapest – Bucharest (extend to Constanta)
⏱ 18 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Medium
Feasibility: 6/10
(This runs already – EuroNight Dacia. But it’s awfully slow. Some infra improvements in Romania might speed it up a bit)

N27 🔴
San Sebastian/Brest – Paris – Zürich
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Medium, would be heavily seasonal
Feasibility: 6/10
(Running in Switzerland is complex, and you’d better route this one on French high speed lines – not viable short term)

N28 🟣
Prague – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest – Belgrade
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 6/10
(Prague – Budapest exists already – hence low feasibility score, Prague – Belgrade would be too long, but medium term Vienna – Budapest – Belgrade could work)

N29 🟡
Budapest – Kraków – Warsaw – Gdańsk
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 6/10
(Similar to N28 – this one runs Budapest – Kraków already, this extends it to Gdansk – hence low feasibility score)

N30 🟡
Bucharest – Sofia – Thessaloniki (extend to Athens)
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 1 ⚡️ system, but needs 2 sections of diesel traction
💶 Weak
Feasibility: 5/10
(Traditionally trains have operated RO-BG and BG-EL, but the market is weak here. Infra needs work too.)

N31 🟣
Zagreb – Ljubljana – Venice – Milan
⏱ 11 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Medium
Feasibility: 7/10
(Operationally not too complex, but extent of the market for a trip like this is rather unknown.)

N32 🔴
Bucharest – Belgrade – Zagreb
⏱ ? hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 1 ⚡️ system, part diesel traction
💶 Low
Feasibility: 2/10
(I don’t know how you run this – via Vrsac to Belgrade? But infra so bad I don’t know if it’s doable. Perhaps only Bucharest-Belgrade?)

N33 🟢
Belgrade – Sofia – Istanbul
⏱ 14 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 1 ⚡️ system, part diesel traction
💶 Low
Feasibility: 4/10
(This used to run, but poor state of infrastructure and poor relations between the respective rail companies make it hard to re-instate)

N34 🔵
(Ferry from Dublin) Holyhead – Birmingham – London – Paris
⏱ 9 hours (excl ferry)
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 1 ⚡️ systems, diesel section, Channel Tunnel! UK loading gauge! Passport controls. Security checks.
💶 Good
Feasibility: 1/10
(The hardest of all the routes proposed here. This is as hard as all the other UK routes, with the added headache of diesel traction too)

N35 🔵
(Extend from Palermo) Brindisi/Naples – Innsbruck – Munich
⏱ 12 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good, although highly seasonal
Feasibility: 8/10
(Germany-Austria-Italy routes are all viable – this extends further into Italy and makes sense)

N36 🔴
Warsaw – Moscow
⏱ 16 hours
⚙️ 2 track gauges, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Low
Feasibility: 6/10
((Paris-)Berlin-Moscow taking 22 hours used to exist, and rolling stock exists. But can it return, not least as it transits Belarus?)

N37 🔴
Vilnius/Riga – St Petersburg
⏱ 14 hours
⚙️ 1 track gauge (broad gauge), 2 ⚡️ systems, some diesel traction
💶 Medium
Feasibility: 6/10
(Better broad gauge connections to/from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are viable)

N38 🔵
Warsaw – Kiev
⏱ 14 hours
⚙️ 2 track gauges, 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 8/10
(This one needs wheels changed at the border, but until comparatively recently it ran – makes sense to re-open)

N39 🟡
Paris – Bordeaux – San Sebastian – Madrid
⏱ 12 hours(?)
⚙️ 1 track gauge, 3 ⚡️ systems, or 2 track gauges and 2 ⚡️ systems
💶 Good
Feasibility: 6/10
(This one is complex. It used to run with a gauge changing Talgo train, but those are not available. French and Spanish railways do not want to collaborate. Running on high speed lines instead would be complex.)

 

So what is missing?

Routes Frankfurt – Leipzig – Southern Poland
Routes to the west of Prague (Prague – Munich – Paris?)
Routes connecting Toulouse and Nice better in France (Toulouse – Milan?)
Routes from North Western Germany to France (Cologne – Marseille?)
Further use of Rail Baltica (Tallinn – Warsaw?)
Norway-Sweden routes (Bergen-Stockholm?)
Routes from Jutland in Denmark
Routes to Chisinau
Routes to Sarajevo (Vienna-Sarajevo, Ljubljana-Sarajevo?)
Brussels – Luxembourg – Strasbourg – Basel – Milan
Luxembourg – Nice – Genova

 

Some people may of course quibble with this assessment (especially with regard to individual lines), but the crux is this: three quarters of the lines proposed here are viable! And that is not a bad result.

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