During the last plenary session of the UIC Intercity and High-Speed Committee held on 23 June 2021, the ICHSC members decided on the creation of a Night Train Working Group within the Intercity and High-Speed Committee.
Growing environmental awareness due to the pandemic has resulted in a shift in customer mobility habits and has revived demand for low-carbon transport alternatives such as long-distance rail travel. With more passengers choosing to travel sustainably, railway undertakings are launching, developing, or reviving declining night train services, with the aim of establishing new connections and enlarging the current night train network. This includes developing attractive services to meet the growing demands from passengers such as competitive travel times, comfort, good connectivity (thus fostering regional development between smaller cities and rural areas) as well as being more climate friendly.
The vision in Europe for 2030 is a network with 15 domestic overnight lines (some of them slightly crossing the borders, for example to Geneva or Brussels), and 15 international lines, going all the way to Lisbon, Malmö or Budapest. The launch of this network by 2030 could represent more than 10 million passengers per year, mostly shifted from planes and cars, thus representing an important saving of CO2. If operators are able to meet the major challenges they face, night trains could play an important role in the post-pandemic world and significantly contribute to reducing transport emissions.
Against this backdrop, the main goals of this UIC Night Train Working Group would be to:
- Build a partnership bringing together the night trains players
- Implement standards for coaches and sales systems
- Strengthen the economic situation of night trains
- Specify path fees/track access charges for night trains
In addition, the creation of this Working Group is an opportunity to share best practice and develop common projects and standards in the areas of rolling stock, operations, corridors, cross-border, business and economic models, and on-board services.
The Group will work closely with other Working Groups of the Passenger Department: Working Group in charge of defining the Special Conditions of International Carriage (SCIC) for Night Trains within the Passenger Services Group), Rail System Department and other UIC Platforms.
UIC as the natural forum for cooperation, dialogue and sharing best practice among its members, is the appropriate body for discussing these topics, taking into account its neutrality and the large number of members involved.
Members are welcome to join this Night Train Working Group through the Intercity and High-Speed Committee. As the ICHSC objective is to kick off the activities of this new Working Group after summer 2021, any interest in joining needs to be shown by 30 July. In addition, members can also express an interest in being Chair or co-Chair of this new Working Group.