France already has two night train lines and another two are set to open up by the end of 2021, but for transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari this is only the start.
The minister has commissioned a report into greatly expanding France's night train network, both for domestic lines and inter-European routes and has declared his ambition to have 10 night train routes running by 2030.
(article continues below)
See also on The Local:
Mon ambition : une dizaine de lignes de trains de nuit en 2030. https://t.co/ERInTSbWGB
— Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (@Djebbari_JB) January 31, 2021
He told Le Parisien: “I'm convinced that when the means are there, with a good quality of service and the right commercial offer, there is a clientele for night trains.
“With the ecological stakes, 'flyskam' (flight shame) and the pandemic that is reshaping the way we travel, the night train has everything to attract travellers.
“Look at Austria, they have 28 night lines. In France, the development of the TGV has eaten up the night trains and the offer has deteriorated. All that has to change.”
A government feasibility study has now been published and identified 7 possible routes for night trains, with Paris and Nice acting as 'hubs'.
L'étude?de l’État dévoilée par @Mobilettre propose de↗l'offre #train_de_nuit?:
✅Des lignes d'aménagement du territoire?️
✅Besoin de 600 voitures?multi-confort neuves
✅Des chiffres sur l'autofinancement
— Oui au train de nuit !?? (@ouiautraindnuit) February 11, 2021
The survey proposes the following routes:
- Paris to south west France and into northern Spain, via Tours, Bordeaux and Bayonne
- Paris to Marseille in a loop via Tours and Bordeaux before running along the south coast to Marseille
- Paris to Barcelona via Brive
- Paris to Toulouse via Orléans with branch lines to Clermont-Ferrand and Albi
- Paris to Nice via Avignon and Marseille
- Nice to Quimper in Brittany via Lyon, with a branch line going to Bordeaux
- Nice to Metz via Strasbourg and Lyon, with a branch line crossing the Swiss border to Geneva and Lyon
Night trains already run between Paris and Briançon in the Alps and Cerbère in the Pyrenees and the two scheduled to begin by the end of 2021 are the Paris to Nice route and Paris to Tarbes in the south west.
— Sleeping Car (@sleeping_train) February 11, 2021
The EU is also investing in rail connections, with plans for an ultra-rapid network that would make it possible to travel from Paris to Berlin in four hours.
Once the two lines reopen in 2021 – which are funded until 2022 – there is no guaranteed funding or firm plans for other routes.
Djebbari said: “This still needs to be discussed at a ministerial level, with parliament and local authorities.
“These are proposals that need to be refined. Given the major work that needs to be carried out on the network, it will be difficult to open many others before 2025.
“But the history of night trains does not stop in 2022. It is also a question of regional planning. My ambition is 10 night trains by 2030.”