Midnight Trains is a new French start-up that has recently announced plans to build a network of overnight train services throughout Europe in the near future. The goal is to get the network up and running by 2024; ideally when the Covid-19 pandemic will be a thing of the past and travel has resumed. 

Midnight Trains “hotels on rails” are hoping to bring greener travel to a post-Covid world. The service will run out of Paris and ideally connect to 12 other major European destinations. The founders of the company claim the aim is “not to match the famous luxury of the Orient Express, but instead offer an alternative to the basic, state-run SNCF sleepers and short-haul flights.”

Embed from Getty Images

The key to Midnight Trains service will be their “hotel-style” rooms, which offer privacy and security as well as an onboard restaurant and bar. The company plans to have the service travel to many countries, including Spain, Italy, Scotland, Germany, and more.

“I noted that people around me don’t want to get on a plane because of concerns about carbon emissions, but also my girlfriend is afraid of flying and decided she was never getting on a plane. I realized the only way travel was going to be possible was by train,” Midnight Trains co-founder Adrien Aumont said.

“People want intimacy. 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.”

Embed from Getty Images

In the International Railway Journal, David Burroughs wrote: “A return to the golden era of night trains in Europe is not going to be easy. But if operators are able to fully develop attractive services to meet the growing demands from passengers, while overcoming the major challenges they face, it could mark the start of a major new era in the post-pandemic world, and offer a major boon for the rail sector.

“Climate change will not be solved overnight, but moving from plane to train is widely understood to play an important role in reducing transport emissions, and night trains could contribute to this change.”

In December of last year a multitude of European rail services signed an agreement that would work to launch new night train services in Europe to help combat climate change. Midnight Trains will be the first step towards developing the Trans-Europe Express network; which would essentially provide the same service as Midnight Trains but at a much larger scale.