Thursday 4 May 2023

The 6th Night Train Working Group meeting takes place at UIC HQ

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On 19 April 2023, the 6th ICHSC Night Trains Working Group (NTWG) meeting was held at UIC, and included a technical visit organised by SNCF. Approximately 20 representatives from ÖBB, NS, DB, Trenitalia, SNCF, SNCB, SBB, PKP, SlovakRail, RailBaltica, MÁV-START, EEX, and students from ESTACA participated.

The session was opened by the NTWG Chair, Sven Poellauer from ÖBB, with the statement that more and more stakeholders are becoming interested in night trains, with the Vice-Chair, Francesca Raciti from Trenitalia, highlighting the growing interest of travel agencies in the domain.

Hessel Winkelman presented the operations and business model “GreenCityTrip”, which specialises in five-day travel packages within Europe for short city breaks.

GreenCityTrip operates its own night trains from the Netherlands to Venice, Prague, Vienna, and Florence, with some lines seeing particular success, like the one going from Amsterdam to Venice.

GreenCityTrip adapts its prices to compete with air travel while offering comfortable travel conditions, as flying is becoming more and more expensive. Sustainability is also particularly appreciated by its clients.

To reduce prices, there are no restaurants or other services on these trains.

Next, Alain Richard, CEO of Europe Express, gave a keynote speech on their “Grand tour” concept (a partnership between the French company Puy du Fou and the railway undertaking Europe Express), which will offer a VIP tourist service exploring France by train, starting in October 2023.

For 6 days and 5 nights, 42 passengers and 15 staff members will travel in an 11 coach train including a restaurant car, a bar car, a kitchen car and an accessible car.

The indicative price is 5000€ per person, including visits and activities as part of the one-week trip.

Then, Lucas Rabehi, Kerian Chauvin, and Arnaud Potel, students from the engineering school ESTACA, presented their work on high-speed European night trains, which they carried out together with Hugo Decloquement.

Taking their inspiration from the airlines, they set out to create and engineer a high-speed interoperable night train in order to create new opportunities for businessmen and tourists alike.

The train would be an electrical triple unit that would link major business and tourist hubs using both conventional and high-speed lines in Europe. It would then divide to bring people closer to their final destination in the morning using slower tracks. The train would also bring airline-style business class seats to the railway industry for better comfort and to increase capacity.

Olivier Metge, from SNCF, spoke about the status quo of night train operations in France. The current enthusiasm for night trains shows no signs of slowing, confirming the French population’s interest in the eco-friendly and economical mode of transport, which also caters to the desire for alternative travel at a different pace.

They are not intended to be for profit, but to serve remote locations not connected by airport or motorway to link them to Paris within 8 hours.

The carriages will have been renovated by summer 2023, reducing the noise levels, offering Wi-Fi, and being secured via a fire station system, etc.

Moreover, since last year, showers have been available at the Paris Austerlitz station, as the night trains around France depart from here. The new facilities consist of a waiting area and six individual and highly comfortable showers, two of which are accessible to people with additional needs. This service is free for the 1st class customers of night trains.

Kenta Takashina, UIC, presented a roadmap for the creation of a night train atlas, with the participants expressing the necessity of creating a small working group on this topic.
The atlas could be updated and published annually on the basis of reliable data provided by members.

After the meeting, a technical visit was organised by François Géronimo from SNCF to the Austerlitz station in Paris, as this will be the gateway of the major Paris Rive Gauche ZAC urban renovation project. The station’s design is being evaluated, as it may accommodate railway traffic of up to 30 million passengers in the future.

The next Night Train Working Group meeting will take place in Vienna on 3 October 2023 in coordination with the UIC TopRail Working Group. The 7th meeting will be hosted by ÖBB with a field visit to see the new Austrian night train.

For further information, please contact Philippe Lorand at

or Cécile Gendrot at

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