As most of us went over a year without travel, the month of July is extremely exciting for those who are planning to dust off their backpacks and suitcases to take advantage of the easing travel restrictions across Europe, which took place on the first of this month.
However, travel may look different now that we’ve had time to reflect on how our actions impact the environment. Even though budget airlines are enticingly, quick, and easy, the rising concern about the climate crisis and the growing awareness about plane emissions is convincing people to put sustainability before convenience when planning their trips.
The shift in travelers’ preferences has sparked the revival of Europe’s night trains, a service that became obsolete with the introduction of cheap flights. Austrian rail operator Nightjet and Sweden’s Snälltåget are overnight services that are relaunching routes between European cities.
New railway companies are also eager to capitalize on consumers’ inclination toward sustainability. European Sleeper, a startup railway company, raised £430,000 in seed capital this May to launch a sleeper service between Brussels and Prague with stops in Amsterdam and Berlin.
French railway startup Midnight Trains also announced that it was giving the sleeper train a facelift by vamping up the concept with rolling hotels. The carriages will offer beautiful private bedrooms, bathrooms, dining cars, and cocktail bars.
Midnight Trains hopes to connect ten European cities, including Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Edinburgh. Adrien Aumont, one of Midnight Trains’ co-founders, says, “Night trains operators have not innovated on the product and its experience for a long time… reinventing the experience was the only way to make it the most comfortable and sustainable transportation medium of our times, and to create a credible alternative to medium-haul flights.”
Aumont also notes that their trains will generate 23 times less CO2 emissions than a commercial flight on the same route.
European Sleeper plans to start their night service trains by April 2022, while Midnight Trains hopes to launch its first service in 2024.