AUSTRIAN Federal Railways (ÖBB) has rolled out what it describes as “the new flagship” of its Nightjet fleet, which will enter service between Austria and Germany on December 10.

The new sleeper trains will operate between Hamburg and Vienna, as well as between Hamburg and the winter sport resort of Innsbruck. They will also be used to connect Vienna with Bregenz - located at opposite ends of Austria - starting in the first half of 2024.

Ahead of their official launch, ÖBB presented the new Nightjet train on a two-day tour of Austria on November 13 and 14. The train visiting state capitals where customers had the opportunity to view the train for themselves.

The main new feature of the 33 new Nightjets, built by Siemens Mobility, is the choice of more categories of comfort, so as to provide passengers with more price options. Apart from the existing high-end and regular sleeping compartments, the New Generation Nightjet will offer new “sleeping capsules” for single travellers, called “Mini Cabin,” as well as couchettes and regular seats.

In addition, there will be special compartments for wheelchair users and their companions.

The seven-coach trains will be able to carry 254 passengers each on the 12-hour overnight journeys, as well as provide more space for luggage, sports equipment, prams, and even bicycles. They will also feature free Wi-Fi, USB and inductive chargers, improved mobile phone coverage, and CCTV security monitoring.

The new Nightjets have cost the ÖBB a total of €720m under contracts awarded to Siemens in 2018 and 2021, a sum that the company considers a good investment.

ÖBB's CEO Andreas Matthä and Austria's minister for climate protection Leonore Gewessler launch the new Nightjet train.

“We’re investing because there is large demand, and night trains as well as the entire railway represent living climate protection,” ÖBB’s CEO Mr Andreas Matthä told the Austrian news agency APA as the new sleeper trains were launched on November 10. “Our goal is to increase the number of night train passengers from 1.5 to three million [per year].”

ÖBB has become the leading night train operator in Europe following German Rail’s (DB) withdrawal from the market in the mid-2010s. The company also enjoys the support of its country’s government, whose minister for climate protection, Ms Leonore Gewessler, attended the launch of the new Nightjets.

“Going by train means protecting the climate,” she said. “With the new Nightjet, travelling will become even more comfortable. I’m already looking forward to the first journey.”

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