ÖBB currently operates 26 night train routes. Photo: ÖBB
“If you were to extend this train further north, the timing would not work at all, because the train has to start much too early,” explained ÖBB press spokesman Bernhard Rieder.
Railway news site jarnvagsnyheter.se on Tuesday reported that the company was considering entering negotiations with the Swedish Transport Administration over sending its ÖBB Nightjet train from Malmö all the way to Vienna.
Two weeks ago the administration was instructed by Sweden's government to begin negotiations with international train companies about providing night trains to the European cities. Sweden's national rail company SJ is unable to send its existing night trains beyond Sweden's borders, as their carriages are too wide for the European rail network.
Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh earlier this month proposed Malmö as Sweden's “rail port to the continent” in an opinion article in Sweden's Expressen newspaper, proposing routes from Malmö to Brussels, Düsseldorf, Munich, Vienna and Paris.
“Malmö is the most suitable connection point for the coming night train traffic,” she wrote, adding that “Malmö is ready to play an important role.”
While he was sceptical of the Malmö-Vienna route, Rieder confirmed that ÖBB, which is Europe's leading operator of night trains, was interested in the prospect of offering a route to Sweden, particularly after it takes delivery of 13 new night trains in 2021.
“We are following the situation,” he said. “As you know, we need the right conditions to operate night trains. What we need is partners on the other side, so as soon as we have a commitment from the Danish and the Swedish side, we will look into it.”
He said that ÖBB's 26 night train routes typically take around ten hours, with its routes from Hamburg to Zurich and Vienna both taking 12 hours, allowing passengers to start in the evening and arrive in time for business meetings in the morning.
“From a practical point of view, we have trains from Hamburg to Vienna and Zurich, and these trains start at a time which is quite good for night trains, at 8pm and 9pm.”
He said the trains also took cargos of cars, which further complicated the logistics of extending the route. Instead, he said, launching future night train routes from Malmö or Stockholm would require establishing an entirely new route, connecting Sweden to destinations closer than Vienna or Zurich.