Pre-pandemic, half of Europe’s air passengers were flying on routes of 500-3000km already connected by rail- what needs to improve is the provision of direct night trains, especially over longer distances.

Trainface by Chris Limb


There are technical, political and financial barriers: the necessary investment requires a strategic Europe-wide vision for cooperation. But a weekly Paris/ Nice-Moskva and summer Praha-Rijeka/ Split show the potential for night+day travel in a berth or bunk bed; and a successful network of NightJets is expanding out of Wien. (Personal blog of Berlin-Split:

Six Of The Best is my Fantasy Ferroviaire to link six major European capitals (Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Roma & Warszawa) and replace 11 of Europe’s busiest air routes with a mixture of night trains (EuroNight) and day trains (EuroCity), using combining and separating portions to connect more destinations, with sleeping cars attached to day trains for the longer distances.

Inspired by the best science fiction, I work within real-life constraints: my timetables use existing infrastructure capacity, rolling stock and locomotives. They are limited to 200kph even on high-speed lines, where they may not hold up the bullet trains.

The fantasy element is to assume the political will to ensure technical interoperability, cooperation, and to invest in rolling stock for long-term sustainability rather than the environmentally destructive model of low-cost aviation. It’s just banging a few heads together. Piece of cake.

Adiós flight shame

Of the 30 busiest air routes in Europe:

6 already have night trains (London-Edinburgh/ Glasgow, Paris-Toulouse/ Nice, Oslo-Trondheim/ Bergen)

4 have high-speed day trains (London-Amsterdam/ Paris, Barcelona-Madrid, Berlin-Frankfurt)

6 are not possible over land (London- New York/ Dubai/ Belfast/ Dublin, Mallorca-Madrid/ Barcelona)

London-Genève could be served by a high-speed day train in 5h30, and London-Málaga/ Lisboa by connections from Madrid.

The 11 missing links are covered by Six Of The Best (London/ Paris to Milano/ Roma/ Barcelona/ Madrid+ London-Frankfurt/ Berlin/ København).


Collectif “Oui au train de nuit”

Bonus trains:

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