'Night train to Rīga' could make a return

Representatives of the Rail Baltica infrastructure project on October 4 floated the possible return of night train services once the 5.8-billion euro project is complete.

"In September 2021, representatives of the Rail Baltica joint venture and the Global Project coordinator RB Rail AS participated in the inaugural session of the Working Group about night trains. The Working Group was organized by the Intercity & High-Speed Committee of International Union of Railways (UIC) to provide an overview of the possibilities that night train operators could leverage from this greenfield project," said a release from the joint venture.

"Currently, RB Rail AS is carrying out analysis of the possible night trains services and potential passenger traffic as part of development of the future passengers’ services on the 1435mm gauge infrastructure. Over the past 30 years the night train services have diminished in Europe, however in recent years demand for this service shows an increase," it was stated.

Rail Baltica project representatives presented their vision about the potential for regular night lines from Tallinn and Vilnius toward Warsaw and Berlin, operated at 200 km/h. “Additionally, possible extensions to Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Amsterdam shall be analysed, including with possible seasonal services towards winter destinations, such as Zakopane in Poland, Poprad in Slovakia, Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria,” said Jean-Marc Galimont, Senior Operation expert at RB Rail AS.

A rough estimate of travel time by night trains was prepared, showing that Warsaw could be reached from Tallinn in 8 and a half hours, and Berlin in 14 and a half hours.

"Considering competitive travel times and the fact that night service is well adapted to habits of the Baltic citizens, it might be expected that night train services will gain popularity amongst the future passengers. Consequently, this would also contribute significantly to reduction of CO2 emissions from transport sector in the Baltic States," the statement said.

The move evokes the golden age of steam and the 'Nord-Express' service of the early twentieth century which regularly linked Latvia not only with Warsaw and Berlin but even Paris and Brussels. 

The International Union of Railways (UIC) is an international rail transport industry body grouping 194 members from railways organization across five continents https://uic.org/passenger/highspeed/

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