Suddenly there is much ado on Europe’s rails by night. Barring any last minute deferral — always possible during a pandemic — a train bound for Nice will leave Paris Austerlitz at 20.52 on Monday 19 April. Yes, the night train to the Riviera is back. The first inbound train will leave Nice Ville station at 19.16 on that same evening, reaching Paris at 07.55 the following day. French national rail operator SNCF, for so long reluctant to invest in night trains, has signalled a change in policy. Let’s not delude ourselves though. This is not the return of the celebrated Train Bleu which ran in great style down to the Côte d’Azur. The new overnight Paris to Nice train will offer couchette accommodation rather than sleeping cars, but it’s a start and SNCF say that more routes are to come.
The developments in France reflect a Europewide rise of interest in night trains, prompted by the pandemic and a new appetite for travel in the privacy of a compartment and fuelled by worries about flying. So night trains are back on the agenda for 2021 with a raft of new services.