‘Hotels on rails’ sleeper trains are coming to Europe

While the US can’t get just one good rail system across the country, Europe is getting yet another travel option — overnight sleeper trains.

Midnight Trains will be a “hotel on rails” with a launch set for 2024, The Guardian reported. The French start-up announced its plan to create a rail network that would connect its Paris hub to 12 other cities across seven countries, including the UK.

The “hotel-style” sleeper train with private rooms and dining options aims to be an affordable, eco-conscious alternative to air travel, which accounts for approximately 2.5% of global greenhouse emissions.

Proposed stops along the Midnight Train, which runs only red-eye routes, include Rome, Barcelona, Porto, Berlin, Copenhagen and Edinburgh. Plans are being finalized pending negotiations between the company and destination countries, according to The Guardian.

Travelers are in need of an “alternative for medium-distance travel,” said French entrepreneur and Midnight Trains co-founder Adrien Aumont, noting that many other rail networks with overnight options are not currently well regarded across Europe.

“People want intimacy,” said Aumont. “They don’t want to be sharing a sleeping space with a stranger. They want privacy, security and a good quality bed. By offering a bar and restaurant we are also offering conviviality and a certain art de vivre.”

Midnight Trains dining car
Midnight Trains CEO Adrien Aumont insisted that Midnight Trains isn’t some kind of revival of the storied luxury rail The Orient Express.
Midnight Trains

Aumont declined to provide the newspaper with a baseline ticket price, but compared the cost to some short-haul flights and insisted that Midnight Trains isn’t some kind of revival of the storied luxury rail The Orient Express.

Europe has enjoyed a long history of convenient commuter and overnight train networks, though the industry has suffered over many decades as air travel popularity has soared. Yet new consumer interest in climate change and reducing carbon emissions has prompted a surge of new interest in train travel.

The trend comes after a year in which airline companies took a big hit as nations locked down their borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On the flip-side, it was a great year for Mother Earth, which enjoyed a 48% decline in carbon emissions from the airline sector in 2020, according to environmental watchdog Carbon Monitor.

The EU’s Commission on Mobility and Transport has urged member nations to invest in low and zero-emission travel options and hopes to double high-speed rail traffic across Europe by 2030.