Current demand for train travel now exceeds the level before the Covid pandemic, reported RTS. Demand for recently expanded overnight train travel has increased the most, reported RTS.
Overnight train travel is possible between Switzerland and Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Graz, Zagreb and Amsterdam, the most recent addition. Sleeper services to Barcelona and Rome are to be added in the future.
However, the service has become a victim of its own success. There are almost no tickets available until the beginning of August, especially on the most demanded destinations such as Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin, said a Swiss Rail spokesperson.
Last year Swiss Rail recorded around 500,000 passenger journeys on sleeper trains, a record that is likely to be broken in 2023.
Train travel in general is experiencing a revival. In 2022, 5 million passengers travelled on the TGV Lyria, the high speed trains running between Switzerland and France – the trains run at high speeds on portions of track in France but not in Switzerland. A spokesperson for TGV Lyria expects 2023 passenger numbers to exceed pre-Covid levels.
To cope with demand, Austrian run overnight train operators are planning to add more trains.
Why is demand for train travel so high? RTS journalist Nicolas Rossé thinks it is driven by price. None of the arguments in favour of train travel, such as its lower environmental impact, absence of airport hassle and city to city convenience have changed. However, the relative price of train travel relative to flying has changed significantly. Higher fuel prices and lower post-Covid capacity have driven up the cost of air travel while train companies have added competing products on routes where most fly and decided to compete more aggressively on price. The train is now often cheaper than flying, even before the costs of adding luggage and city connections are added to the cost of flights.