Strategy for new Nightjet routes centred on Switzerland

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ainsworth74

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Just came across this tweet from ÖBB:

Mehr #nightjetliebe für Europa! Zusammen mit der SBB (@railservice) freuen wir uns die Strategie der Ausbaupläne des «Nightjet-Netz Schweiz 2024» vorzustellen! Die Pläne beinhalten den Ausbau des #Nightjet-Netzes ab der Schweiz auf insgesamt zehn Linien & 25 Destinationen.

Translation said:
More #nightjetliebe for Europe! Together with the SBB (@railservice) We are pleased to present the strategy for the expansion plans for the “Nightjet Network Switzerland 2024”! The plans include the expansion of the #Nightjet Network from Switzerland on a total of ten lines & 25 destinations.


It also includes the below map showing the range of routes:

Eh8SVTpXkAAenrv.jpg

So a range of services starting from Zürich and serving Vienna, Prague (via Linz), Budapest, Graz, Zagreb, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague (via Dresden), Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome. Looking at the map I would guess quite a lot of portion working with a lot of splitting and joining going on at Frankfurt as it seems three different services are going that way. I also suppose there will be some scope for combining with existing Nightjet services as well in some locations.

It's very existing to see sleeper services undergoing a real renaissance on the Continent. And I have to say I fancy Amsterdam to Barcelona with a day in Zurich in the middle <:D
 
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30907

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Prague via Leipzig is a (pleasant) surprise, though it is a reinstatement.

1x Zurich-Frankfurt and split for Amsterdam and Hamburg, 1x Zurich-Leipzig...

My guess is OeBB will then have Vienna-Amsterdam combined with Vienna-Paris, plus Berlin-Paris (combined with Berlin-Zurich perhaps, with Zurich-Prague being a short portion not a full Nightjet).
 
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James James

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FWIW about half of that already exists:
- Barcelona, Rome, and Amsterdam are completely new, but had already been rumoured for quite some time.
- Berlin and Hamburg already exist, although it looks like they've shuffled the exact routing a bit and are increasing capacity by running them as separate trains.
- Prague via Dresden did used to exist, don't think I've seen it recently. Prague via Austria is pre-existing (but quite basic - 2 carriages most of the time I believe), and is attached to a Nightjet from Zurich to Linz.
- Vienna and Budapest and Graz preexisting nightjets - Budapest seems to be a handful of hungarian carraiges attached to a Nightjet right now.
- Zagreb preexisting too, also seems to be some Croatian carriages attached to a Nightjet from Zurich.
 

AlbertBeale

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Is there a map showing the combination of what's then possible overall, using these Swiss sleepers and the Austrian ones? Or are the almost invisible thin grey lines on this map the Austrian ones? If so, then between the two that's not a bad network - in central Europe at least.
 

Bletchleyite

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This looks rather like the unrelenting growth of CityNightLine before DB got their grubby mitts on it and ran it into the ground. I hope it doesn't suffer the same fate.

One thing I'd like to know is why these trains are economic yet the UK ones not.
 

RT4038

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This looks rather like the unrelenting growth of CityNightLine before DB got their grubby mitts on it and ran it into the ground. I hope it doesn't suffer the same fate.

One thing I'd like to know is why these trains are economic yet the UK ones not.

Who is saying that they are economic, and on what basis?
 

30907

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Is there a map showing the combination of what's then possible overall, using these Swiss sleepers and the Austrian ones? Or are the almost invisible thin grey lines on this map the Austrian ones? If so, then between the two that's not a bad network - in central Europe at least.
Yes, they are, but Austrian plans (from an indistinct Powerpoint slide via Youtube on Twitter which I can't even find ATM!) include Vienna-Paris (apparently via Munich) and possibly Berlin-Paris. They also seem to want Vienna-Berlin via Prague (the historic route) not Wroclaw. My guesses upthread seem to be wrong!
 

StephenHunter

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That map only includes Austrian-operated services; it excludes the (both currently suspended) Moscow-Nice EuroNight operated by RZD and the Wien-Kyiv through carriages from UZ.
 

Bletchleyite

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Who is saying that they are economic, and on what basis?

Well, OeBB are hardly going to be doing it out of charity, are they? Is it even legal to subsidise an operation entirely within another country under EU law? They clearly believe it will be possible for them to be profitable.
 

30907

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Well, OeBB are hardly going to be doing it out of charity, are they? Is it even legal to subsidise an operation entirely within another country under EU law? They clearly believe it will be possible for them to be profitable.
Perhaps why SBB are getting involved? Though Berlin-Brussels/Paris couldn't be subsidised, I agree (there is a similar discussion about the proposed services from Sweden.)
 

Bletchleyite

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Perhaps why SBB are getting involved? Though Berlin-Brussels/Paris couldn't be subsidised, I agree (there is a similar discussion about the proposed services from Sweden.)

You know what? I completely missed SBB being involved.

They just need to get DB in on the action and it'll be CNL all over again. (The original "blue CNL" was a collaboration of the three; the run-down "red CNL" was DB alone, descended I think from DB NachtZug which itself descended from DB AutoZug).
 

JonathanP

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Well, OeBB are hardly going to be doing it out of charity, are they? Is it even legal to subsidise an operation entirely within another country under EU law? They clearly believe it will be possible for them to be profitable.

The Swiss part of the plan is explicitly contingent on support from the Swiss government:
"The planned expansion, however, is reliant on financial support from the Swiss Climate fund. "

I can't find the news article right now but I also read that Austria is also planning a subsidy package for international passenger trains.

I'll be delighted if this all actually happens. However, the more cynical way to look at it, is that all this publicity about supposed "Planned Expansion" (but with a little footnote saying "But only if you give us money") is a way for the incumbent national quasi-monopolies ÖBB and SBB to make damn sure that when the oft-discussed political support comes, it comes in the form of money directly into their coffers, instead of something beneficial to potential competitors too like reduced track access charges for all overnight passenger trains.

However, as far as I know the current operations are fully commercial.

One thing I'd like to know is why these trains are economic yet the UK ones not.

The main differences that come to mind are:
  • They connect major cities - in the UK only the Lowland Caledonian is comparable
  • Electric traction used throughout
  • Locomotives and operational staff shared with daytime operations
  • Customer facing staff are from CIWL and not ÖBB. I suspect they have worse pay/conditions
  • Trains carry variously Deluxe Sleeper, Sleeper, Couchette, Seated and Motor Vehicles. Couchettes open up whole new markets - I have seen entire school classes travelling in them, not to mention the ubiqutious interrailers.
  • No restuarant/bar car
  • Seven days a week operation
 
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RT4038

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Well, OeBB are hardly going to be doing it out of charity, are they? Is it even legal to subsidise an operation entirely within another country under EU law? They clearly believe it will be possible for them to be profitable.

Who knows? A business plan can easily be written to show it is possible for them to be profitable. But will it in practice, or will it go the same way as CNL?
How can this business pay for the capital costs of new rolling stock? Sooner or later the crunch will come; maybe they are hoping for some subsidy somewhere at some point?
 

Ianno87

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The Swiss part of the plan is explicitly contingent on support from the Swiss government:
"The planned expansion, however, is reliant on financial support from the Swiss Climate fund. "

I wonder if that 'sinks' the cost of the complexity of the operations around Zurich so it's only the relatively simple 'out and back' working once outside Switzerland that needs to stand on its own two feet?

Who knows? A business plan can easily be written to show it is possible for them to be profitable. But will it in practice, or will it go the same way as CNL?
How can this business pay for the capital costs of new rolling stock? Sooner or later the crunch will come; maybe they are hoping for some subsidy somewhere at some point?

Guess it might depend on what is accounted for where? i.e. if the service is making some use of staff otherwise needed for other reasons anyway.
 

Austriantrain

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I wonder if that 'sinks' the cost of the complexity of the operations around Zurich so it's only the relatively simple 'out and back' working once outside Switzerland that needs to stand on its own two feet?

That is how NightJet operations will be supported within Austria.
 

AlbertBeale

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The main differences that come to mind are:
  • They connect major cities - in the UK only the Lowland Caledonian is comparable
  • Electric traction used throughout
  • Locomotives and operational staff shared with daytime operations
  • Customer facing staff are from CIWL and not ÖBB. I suspect they have worse pay/conditions
  • Trains carry variously Deluxe Sleeper, Sleeper, Couchette, Seated and Motor Vehicles. Couchettes open up whole new markets - I have seen entire school classes travelling in them, not to mention the ubiqutious interrailers.
  • No restuarant/bar car
  • Seven days a week operation

If you're suggesting that sleeper trains on the continent never have a restaurant car or buffet car, that's not entirely true; many don't, but some do. And some which don't nevertheless manage to supply a significant and sufficient breakfast to your compartment in the morning.
 

30907

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If you're suggesting that sleeper trains on the continent never have a restaurant car or buffet car, that's not entirely true; many don't, but some do. And some which don't nevertheless manage to supply a significant and sufficient breakfast to your compartment in the morning.
The Budapest-Bucuresti Ister had a restaurant car within Romania pre-Covid, and the Spanish TALGO sets (not running at all ATM) had a buffet/bar. The Moscow-Paris/Nice ISTR have a Polish car.
The only other examples in Western/Central Europe I can think of are a couple of single sleepers that run attached to ordinary expresses in CZ/SK.
AIUI the Nightjet attendants can supply a reasonable supper as well as the excellent breakfast.
 

Stephen Lee

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Barcelona...........I wondered if the night Talgos from RENFE are still in operation...........
 

AlbertBeale

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Even outside of Corona, airlines get lots of hidden subsidies... Kerosene is tax-free, no VAT on plane tickets etc...

The "no VAT on international plane travel" rule is an EU regulation - it's literally the only thing which is zero-rated for VAT in every EU country. In fact it is the only thing zero-rated in some EU countries!
 

30907

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Barcelona...........I wondered if the night Talgos from RENFE are still in operation...........
They aren't UFN. The one surviving from Barcelona, to A Coruna etc, might stand a chance of being reinstated post Covid. I don't think SBB will want to hire them for their Zurich service though.
 

Austriantrain

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They aren't UFN. The one surviving from Barcelona, to A Coruna etc, might stand a chance of being reinstated post Covid. I don't think SBB will want to hire them for their Zurich service though.

Not really needed either, since „normal“ loco-hauled night stock should be able to use the Perpignan - Barcelona HSL.
 

AlbertBeale

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Not really needed either, since „normal“ loco-hauled night stock should be able to use the Perpignan - Barcelona HSL.

Sorry - what's "UFN"?

Are there any reasons why not-very-high-speed trains can't use new high-speed lines (at times when they're not getting in the way of high-speed traffic, such as at night)? Or do new HS lines on the continent have special signalling that only new TGVs etc can cope with?
 

peteb

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Sorry - what's "UFN"?

Are there any reasons why not-very-high-speed trains can't use new high-speed lines (at times when they're not getting in the way of high-speed traffic, such as at night)? Or do new HS lines on the continent have special signalling that only new TGVs etc can cope with?
Someone told me on another thread that it's because the LGVs are subject to maintenance at night. And they have special signalling but some locos can cope with that.
 

Ianno87

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Someone told me on another thread that it's because the LGVs are subject to maintenance at night. And they have special signalling but some locos can cope with that.

Correct. Most high speed lines are closed overnight for maintenance.
 

Austriantrain

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Correct. Most high speed lines are closed overnight for maintenance.

They are (but not everywhere, e.g. German HSL mostly are not, AFAIK), but if suitable for loco-hauled trains, HSL can be used in the evenings and mornings, thus still saving lots of time.
 
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