hidden europe 65

Time for change: new rail services for 2022

Picture above: With the new rail timetables for 2022, Vienna consolidates its position as the European city enjoying the best international connectivity by rail (photo © Sitthipong Pengjan / dreamstime.com).


Slower trains from Newcastle to Edinburgh and faster dashes from Cologne to Berlin are in the offing. New rail timetables across Europe come in effect in mid-December 2021. New night trains from Austria to France and from Switzerland to the Netherlands will start. We highlight some key changes in European rail schedules.

It is that time of year when rail travellers across Europe are eager for a first peek at next year’s schedules. It’s all change on Europe’s railways in the wee small hours of Sunday 12 December when most rail operators switch to their 2022 timetables. That means a raft of new services, but not all will actually start in mid-December — in some cases the start date may only be in spring 2022.

One appealing service which will start in December is a new direct train from Vienna to Frankfurt-am-Main which, rather than taking the main line through Passau, will make a grand detour through the Austrian Tyrol. This is in effect an extension into Germany of one of the existing regular Railjet trains from Vienna to Bregenz. The train in question is the long-standing RJ860 from the Austrian capital to Bregenz which from mid- December will continue around the shores of Lake Constance to Lindau and Friedrichshafen, before turning north to Stuttgart, Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Few travellers will have the appetite for the full 12 hours from Vienna to Frankfurt, but we can see this new service having real appeal for travellers heading to and from Germany keen to see the scenic Arlberg route in Railjet comfort.

We suspect this new service will be a hit with travellers from Britain bound for Austria. The city of Ulm on the Danube is an amiable spot for a first overnight stay and is easily reached from southern England by rail in a day. The Vienna-bound Railjet then leaves Ulm at 09.02 in the morning to give an arrival in Innsbruck at 13.14, Salzburg at 15.08 and Vienna at 17.30.

Night trains may not be able to match this new Railjet’s sightseeing potential, but there are some handy additions to Europe’s night sleeper network for 2022.

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