The Swedish government has announced a 4.7 million euro investment in night-time rail connections to continental Europe.
Over the past few decades, night-time train services have been cut across Europe due to the harsh competition from budget airlines and high-speed trains, which have made overnight train rides unnecessary on most routes.
With its new announcement, Sweden intends to reverse this trend in a bid to make international, long-distance mobility more sustainable. Investments in night-time trains are part of an effort to offer more low-carbon options for long-distance travel.
According to a report by Chalmers University, Swedes’ flight emissions have increased by 47% since 1990 and totalled 10 million tonnes in 2017. However, the growth of international flights taken by Swedes has slowed in recent years. A reason could be that people are more conscious of the environmental impacts of air travel.
Once the funds have been made available, the first steps will include research on the level of travel demand to identity the most popular routes, and the launch of a call for rail companies interested in running the service.
The Swedish national railway company, Statens Järnyägar (SJ), had previously expressed reservations about the idea of running night-time trains in the near future. Currently, the only night train service to the European mainland is operated by the rail company Snälltåget, which runs direct trains from Malmö to Berlin.
According to Per Bolund, Deputy Finance Minister and Green Party Representative, politicians must respond to people’s demand for more “climate-smart” ways of travelling, both on holidays and for work. In a press release, he said that Sweden is putting forward investments to revive night trains to continental Europe “in order to cope with the climate, build a strong society and to achieve the goal of becoming the world’s fossil-free welfare country.”
Image source: © Denis Belitsky / shutterstock - no permission to re-use image(s) without a separate license from Shutterstock.