The first night train from Berlin to Paris in almost a decade pulled into Paris Gare de l’Est at 10.24am on Tuesday morning, hailed as a milestone moment in the renaissance of cleaner alternatives to air travel in Europe.
The maiden journey of the new “Berlin link” left the German capital at 8.18pm on Monday night, fully booked and carrying the French transport minister, Clément Beaune, who had hugged his German counterpart, Volker Wissing, before departing.
Beaune emerged in Paris describing his journey as “magnificent”. He said: “It’s a good start. It’s a symbol we need at the moment, because we need positive projects, environmental and European projects.”
The train was cheered along its route. Before 6am in Strasbourg, local politicians waving French, German and European flags had gathered on the platform as the train passed through.
“What joy – job done,” wrote the Green MEP for northern France, Karima Delli, on X. She added: “We’ll keep going.”
The sleeper service between Berlin and Paris had been called for by travellers, local politicians and green campaigners for years. It marks a return to favour of slow travel and cleaner options after night trains lost out to competition from budget airlines and high-speed trains at the beginning of the century, with many sleeper-train services closing.
The connection will be operated by the French and German national train operators, SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, while the rolling stock will be provided by the Austrian train company ÖBB, whose “Nightjet” trains already cross central Europe.
In 2020, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he aimed to open 10 new sleeper services by 2030.
In France, the first new sleeper train from Paris to Aurillac in the Cantal region departed on Sunday night, 20 years after the service was closed.
The French government has invested €100m (£86m) to revive the national network and prepare new carriages for service.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn aims to expand its night-train connections to 13 other large European cities in partnership with other operators.
Source : BBC