Sleeper trains waking up again for ÖBB


One railroad's deadweight can be another's bread-and-butter.

It seems that overnight sleeper service in central Europe is a good example for that, as the ÖBB, Austria's state-owned railroad operator is reporting growing business on the overnight train services it bought from Germany's Deutsche Bahn in 2016. At the time, many thought ÖBB was fighting a losing battle with discount airlines.

In fact, business is so good that the railroad is ordering 13 new trains with state-of-the-art facilities and is looking to add to its portfolio of 26 routes. It's already added a revamped and highly-popular Vienna-to-Berlin train.

Many of the routes operate from Vienna to destinations as diverse as Venice, Rome, Warsaw, Zurich and more, while others operate services within Germany. 

Among the reasons cited for growing popularity of this old-school adventure are saving a hotel night, sparing the aggravation of two airport-to-city journeys and the airport itself, and for those interested in preserving the environment, the nearly carbon-neutral aspect of modern rail services. As well, some stations along the night routes are too small for regular air service. 

Down the road, the trains may pick up a little more steam, as a number of European countries are campaigning for a VAT tax on air tickets, now exempt, that would even up the competition for already-taxed rail tickets.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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