High hopes as Austria’s new night train sets off for Brussels

(EurActiv, 20 Jan 2020) The first night train to set off for Belgium in 16 years departed from Vienna Sunday (19 January), carrying Austrian and European politicians who hope the new route can set an example as the continent tries to meet its climate targets.

The carriages of the “ÖBB Nightjet” pulled out of Vienna’s main station punctually at 8:38 pm to the strains of a live band playing the EU anthem “Ode to Joy”, the slogan #loveyourplanet emblazoned along their sides.

Scheduled to arrive in Brussels at 10:55 am on Monday, the rail journey emits less than a tenth of the CO2 per passenger than the equivalent flight.

Austrian state railway company ÖBB has for several years been a pioneer in the revival of night trains, and ÖBB board chairman Andreas Matthae said he was “proud” of the new route.

Joining a clutch of Austrian MEPs was Martin Selmayr, previously the powerful chief of staff to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and now the EU’s representative in Vienna.

For British holidaymaker Daniel, 35, the train was the clear choice — not for environmental reasons but for comfort.

“No airport routine, it’s nice and easy… it’s relaxing,” he told AFP.

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EurActiv, 20 Jan 2020: High hopes as Austria’s new night train sets off for Brussels