AUSTRIAN Federal Railways (ÖBB) has completed the modernisation of the first of 22 seating coaches from the existing Nightjet fleet to new multifunction couchette cars.

Once in operation, the coaches will be individually integrated into the existing Nightjet trains so that modernised cars and barrier-free compartments will be available on as many routes as possible.

The first modernised coaches will enter service on the Vienna - Bregenz route from the December 12 timetable change. By summer 2022 it is expected that all 22 coaches will be operating on selected routes in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The interiors are modelled on the new-generation Nightjet trains due to begin operating in 2023. The modernised couchette car has four-person compartments with fixed beds. There is a stroller parking space and three bicycle spaces in each coach.

Free Wi-Fi is being fitted to the upgraded couchette cars along with USB and power sockets next to each bed along with a control display for various functions including lights and service calls. For extra security, the modernised coaches will use NFC card access and video surveillance.

ÖBB Technische Services is conducting the upgrade , with the first upgraded coach unveiled by ÖBB CEO, Mr Andreas Matthä, and Austria’s climate protection minister, Ms Leonore Gewessler, on October 4.

“The future of short and medium-haul connections in Europe is the night train,” Gewessler says. “Getting on the train in Vienna in the evening and waking up in the morning in the middle of a European capital is good for the climate and a comfortable way to travel. Those who travel by night train protect our environment while they sleep and are therefore 51 times more climate-friendly than traveling by plane.” The upgraded coaches can be booked on the ÖBB ticket website as “private compartment couchette comfort.”