In a report on night trains, the directorate notes that there is healthy demand in Norway with occupancy of the existing four daily services ranging between 87 and 100%.
“We are clear that we should still have night trains on our long-distance routes and that the service should be better,” says Ms Heidi Meyer Midtun, leader of the night train investigation group. “We have done a customer survey where we clearly see that people want better-tailored offers on night trains.”
The most common wish is for reclining seats to provide a service akin to business class on long-haul flights. “It is clear that today’s offerings where you either have your own compartment or sit through the night in ordinary seats do not answer people’s wishes and needs well enough,” explains Midtun. A greater breadth of supply should be introduced both in terms of capacity and price level.
New coaches will have to be ordered for the existing night trains in a few years because the existing coaches are only expected to last for another eight years.
However, money has already been set aside in next year’s state budget for the conversion of existing coaches as a stop-gap measure to increase capacity. Norske Tog is looking at solutions whereby coaches could be fitted with reclining seats. Some coaches may have single cabins with bunks and an ensuite shower and toilet.
Midtun says the recommendations in the report will lay the foundation for what kind of night train Norway will have in the future. Preliminary studies show that double-deck coaches could be introduced with fairly modest infrastructure measures, which would improve the economics of operating overnight services. “It is also important that the night trains’ coaches can be used during the day and thus improve the economics of procuring new trains,” Midtun says.