One of the top trends for 2023 is rail travel, which is gaining traction.
The environmental benefit of rail travel is significant because it emits emissions 20 times less than the average commercial vehicle. However, people aren’t just choosing trains because of their environmental benefits.
The demand for non-flight itineraries is increasing as fuel prices rise, and new lines are making cross-country train trips more feasible and available. Improved connectivity and technological advances are bringing about a new “golden era” of train travel from Europe to the US. This is how the rail revitalization trend will change during the coming year.
The popularity of rail travel is rising quickly across Europe
This year, there has been a rise in rail travel throughout Europe and the UK, particularly among visitors from North America. Trainline chief data officer Mike Hyde adds, “They disclosed data earlier this year showing US tourists were taking the train in unprecedented numbers this summer. Ticket sales to US-based visitors were up 93% in France and 17% in Italy compared to pre-pandemic.
He also points out that outside of London, cities like Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, and York were among the top 10 UK choices for Americans. Multi-country train excursions can be challenging to plan from a financial and logistical standpoint, even though no-fly itineraries are becoming more and more popular. Everyone is attempting to address this, from rail operators to tour operators.
The GoldenPass Express, the first line connecting Switzerland’s French and German-speaking regions from Montreux to the Bernese Oberland, will soon begin service in Switzerland. Intrepid, a leader in adventure travel, has partnered with Byway, a UK slow travel provider, to link no-fly passengers to tour start places by rail. In 2023, the number of sleeper trains in Europe is also expected to increase, making it simpler and more affordable to cross the continent by rail while maximizing travel time.
One of the most intriguing projects is Nightjet, a global alliance led by Austria’s BB. The company’s new generation of sleeper trains, which go on sale the following year, focus even more on comfort and privacy. A few of the facilities include ensuite bathrooms, wireless charging stations, and architecture with a Scandinavian flavour.
Nightjet has already created routes that connect Amsterdam and Zurich through Cologne, as well as Vienna, Munich, and Paris. It will start running a train from Zurich to Rome through Milan in a few weeks. By 2024, it will also add a sleeper service between Zurich and Barcelona as well as those between Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. The Belgian-Dutch social cooperative European Sleeper, another recent entry, is working to put travel by night train back on the map. Brussels and Prague will be connected by its initial launch via Amsterdam and Berlin which are expected in winter 2022.
In collaboration with Sunweb Group, European Sleeper also intends to introduce direct services to locations for winter sports and summer vacations. Sleeper trains to the French Alps are planned to begin service this December, followed by sleeper trains to southern France’s beaches in the summer of 2023. Midnight Trains, a Parisian start-up, will also begin operating its opulent Orient Express-style trains from Gare du Nord in Paris to Rome, Porto, and Copenhagen in 2024.
Technology is accelerating the growth of modern rail travel
The expectation of technological advancements that might make ultra-high-speed travel a reality is what fuels the enthusiasm surrounding rail. Nevomo, a Polish startup, is creating the MagRail system, which employs magnetic levitation to travel at up to 550 kph on already-existing railroad rails. The company’s hyperloop concept, a hybrid of a train and an aeroplane that will allow passengers to travel from Frankfurt to Berlin in 30 minutes at up to 1,200 kph, is even more intriguing. Nevomo trains are anticipated to begin operating between Krakow and Gdansk in 2023, cutting the travel time from six hours to about 35 minutes.
The popularity of luxurious train travel is growing. The Oriental Express brand has been acquired by the French hospitality business Accor, which intends to introduce a new sub-brand of opulent hotels with a railroad concept. After nearly two years of COVID-related closure, South Africa’s Rovos Rail, branded the most opulent train in the world, has resumed service on its route from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Accessibility and usefulness are essential for the trend of passenger train travel to persist among the general public. Routes must be convenient and reasonably priced, giving passengers the choice to go to both nearby cities and other nations. The ease, accessibility, and universal acceptance of air travel today play a significant role in international travel. If rail is to transition from an optional to a primary mode of transportation in 2023, businesses and travellers across the travel sector must share the same vision.