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As Europe’s rail revolution continues apace, one of its major players has decided to bring in an improved service 24/7.
Austria’s state railway ÖBB, which has been leading the revival of overnight services in recent years, has unveiled a new 33-strong fleet of night trains, which will debut in December 2023.
Amid the better all-round service, one thing stands out: a focus on solo travelers, with the new trains containing pod-like single berths, as well as standard couchettes and sleeping cars.
The seven-carriage trains will each have a capacity of 254 passengers, and will be composed of two seating cars, three couchettes and two sleeping cars.
And they look set to get a major upgrade on traditionally spartan sleeper trains. In the sleeping cars, all compartments will have their own bathroom, including a shower.
Beds will be fixed, which ÖBB promises will make them more comfortable. And there will be more space for bulky luggage, including sports equipment, strollers and six spots for bikes.
Passengers can pick from ensuite cabins that sleep two (in bunk beds) in either the Comfort Plus or Comfort spaces (the latter is slightly less spacious).
Couchettes have four berths in each compartment, though they are not ensuite.
The real innovation lies in the “Mini Cabins” – pod-like single berths in the couchette cars, stacked on top of each other in two layers, like a dormitory in which each person can seal off their private space.
Solo travelers will get their privacy, along with a tight but does-the-job space, with a mirror in the foldaway breakfast table, reading lamp, storage area and lockers for shoes and hand bags.
Each train will also have an accessible couchette, sleeping up to two wheelchair users plus two more people, with an accessible toilet.
Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s minister for climate action, said the new trains “make it clear that the future of short and medium haul travel belongs to the train.”
“Taking the train means protecting the climate. This is particularly true for night trains. That’s why we are working together to further expand the European night train network,” she said in a statement.
“Boarding in Vienna in the evening and waking up refreshed in another European metropolis the next morning… will be even easier and more comfortable in the future.”
The trains have been approved for use in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. They are due to enter service on December 10 on the Vienna-Hamburg and Innsbruck-Hamburg routes. Tickets go on sale October 11.
ÖBB, which celebrates its centenary this year, now has Europe’s largest fleet of sleeper trains, running across the continent.