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Calls to bring back night trains that have disappeared due to ‘laziness’

Last train-hotel that circulated out of Barcelona was halted at the beginning of the pandemic

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21 October 2021 02:28 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The platform promoting public transport (PTP) has called on train operators in Catalonia to return night services that have disappeared over the past decade due to “laziness.”

The association has called on Renfe, FGC, and SNCF to bring the services back and pointed to the example of other European countries cities working on creating a network of overnight high-speed rail that will eventually connect Barcelona with Zurich by 2024. 

Adrià Ramírez, president of the PTP group, described it as “unfortunate” that Catalonia has to wait for other countries to put Barcelona back on the night-train map.

It was announced earlier in the year that a network of overnight trains will connect 13 different European cities from this December, including Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Amsterdam, and Zurich.

The project is led by the railway companies of France (SNCF), Germany (DB), Austria (ÖBB) and Switzerland (CFF). The newly created routes will be known as the Nightjet, the name of the overnight services of Austrian railway company ÖBB that already runs trains in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

In a press conference on Thursday at Estació de França, one of the main train stations in the Catalan capital, PTP representatives insisted that with existing infrastructures and investing in material, it would be possible to travel to Paris, Milan, Zurich or Frankfurt in 10 hours from Barcelona, ​​leaving in the evening and arriving in the morning. 

In addition to international destinations, connections with Galicia, the Basque Country, Andalusia should be restored, as well as the rebuilding of a route between Barcelona and Lisbon. 

For PTP, connections between these cities, for the most part, are not "competitively replaced by high-speed rail," which would considerably reduce air traffic in the area.

They also pointed out that a fair comparison between rail travel and air travel must take into account the time it takes to travel between airport terminals, boarding time, and other waiting times, leaving many journeys to last a similar duration of time between both methods.  

Environmentally-friendly services

Overnight trains have become more and more popular in recent times as people have become more environmentally conscious, according to the plans announced by the Barcelona city council

Trains emit far fewer pollutants than airplanes and consumers understand the need to move more toward sustainability. 

As such, improved rail services are being promoted as an eco-friendly and safe alternative. 

Plans laid out by the European Commission last year target a 90% reduction in emissions from the transport sector by 2050, something that can be achieved in part with substituting air travel with rail services. 

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  • A high-speed AVE train entering a tunnel in Vilafranca del Penedès (by Gemma Sánchez)

  • A high-speed AVE train entering a tunnel in Vilafranca del Penedès (by Gemma Sánchez)

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