The boss of the Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB, Andreas Matthä, wants to link and expand the network with night trains in Europe even more closely. In the podcast “Fast Lane” from Tagesspiegel Background, Matthä demands that Deutsche Bahn and other state railways, on whose network ÖBB then runs, would have to contribute to the financing. The ÖBB boss described night trains as a “European project”. Matthä speaks of “risk sharing”. Of course, the income would also be shared.
Specifically, the Vienna-Munich-Paris Nightjet line is to be increased from the current three departures a week to daily as soon as the necessary sleeping and couchette cars are available. The 33 new hotel trains ordered from Siemens are to be delivered from autumn 2023. The Berlin-Paris and Berlin-Brussels connections are planned for the timetable change. Matthä described the German capital as a “hub”, i.e. as a hub for other lines.
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Night trains are a “niche product” for ÖBB and the Viennese were initially “smiled at for it”, says Matthä. But with the discussion about climate protection, the view of such hotel trains has changed a lot. According to him, the ÖBB Nightjets are in the black. Even if the profit would not meet the expectations of a listed company.
However, Matthä complains that night trains have to pay rail tolls at the same rate as day trains. Above all, however, he is annoyed by the disadvantage compared to cross-border air traffic, which is exempt from VAT. But not the train.
Matthä is hosting a meeting of 20 Bahn CEOs from all over Europe this Thursday and Friday. The main focus is on the digitization of the railways, which, in his words, will trigger a “second industrial revolution for the railways” and is a prerequisite for expanding cross-border traffic.