While other railroads were declaring overnight trains, especially sleepers, a thing of the past and getting out of the business, Austria's rail operator ÖBB made a shrewd bet that they were wrong, with ticket sales up 11% already this year.
Barely three years after ÖBB bought the rolling stock and most of the routes of Deutsche Bahn's City Nightline service, it's not only still running, but adding routes and filling its coach seats and beds. Rebranded as NightJet, there are now 26 overnight routes, with two more scheduled to start in the next year or so.
For many travelers, the overnight services are an economical alternative to flying, even when the flights are on low-cost airlines, because they also save the cost of a hotel room for the night. For others, environmental concerns are the key. For either group, because the travel takes place during 'sleeping hours' it doesn't cut into daytime business or sightseeing.
Among the new services in prospect are Vienna to Brussels starting early next year and Vienna-Amsterdam months later. Existing routes link cities in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and Poland to Austria.A