On Tuesday, the European Commission unveiled plans to establish or improve ten long-distance train routes across Europe.

The Commission plans to improve cross-border rail traffic by making routes not just faster and less expensive, but also more accessible to passengers.

The plans call for the expansion of both standard long-distance rail routes and night trains, for instance from Brussels to Barcelona or Paris to Venice via Milan. However, Luxembourg is not featured on the map of planned projects.


© Image by  European Commission

Four routes will begin in Munich, with direct links to Zurich, Milan, Rome, and Vienna. The night train from Berlin to Stockholm will be extended. It is already possible to travel by night train between the two European capitals in about 14 hours.

While the Scandinavian countries are already well-connected via long-distance train routes, there are proposals to expand these lines as well. A railway line between Göteborg, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway, is, for instance, being considered.

The European Commissioner for Transpor,t Adina Vălean, hopes to respond to the growing demand for green mobility by supporting these ten projects: "We require a train network that is more responsive and faster, particularly on long-distance and cross-border routes. This is why the European Commission aims to assist train operators in establishing new international train links — both day and night trains – by reducing the numerous barriers to cross-border rail traffic."

The comeback of night trains

After years of fierce competition from low-cost airlines, night trains appear to be making a comeback as a green travel alternative.

A paradigm shift is evident across Europe, and several countries have started to rebuild their networks. Austria, for example, will debut its "Nightjet of the Future" in 2023, with many connections to Italy. Meanwhile, the UK government has already revamped its two night trains, the Night Riviera and the Caledonian Sleeper.

The French National Railway Company (SNCF) has plans to expand its Intercités de Nuit connections, after scrapping most of them in 2016. Similar plans are currently in the works in Germany and Sweden.