Switzerland to expand night train links to Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam

Switzerland’s federal transit authority (SBB) has announced plans to expand its night train connections with Barcelona, Amsterdam and Rome.

Switzerland to expand night train links to Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam
The Nightjet is the largest night train network in Europe. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

Currently boasting six lines, the network will be expanded to ten lines linking Switzerland with major destinations in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. 

Known as the ‘Nightjet’, it is the largest night train network in Europe, reports Swiss daily 20 Minutes

It currently serves 11 destinations across the continent: Berlin, Zagreb, Vienna, Ljubljana, Hamburg, Budapest, Hanover, Graz, Prague, Linz and Potsdam. 



The expansion plan is a joint effort between the SBB and Austria’s federal railway body (ÖBB). 

The first expansion step will begin in 2021 and will link Zurich, Basel, Frankfurt, Cologne and Amsterdam. 

REVEALED: Where are Switzerland’s best and worst train stations?

Leipzig and Dresden will be added on the connection between Berlin and Prague from 2023. 

The plans are set to be finished by 2024. 

The expansion will also involve the construction of new trains. 

“We are investing in new trains, 13 Nightjet sets of the latest generation will be in use from the end of 2022”, said Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB, in a press statement. 

This is how Europe's Nightjet train service will operate from 2024. Image: SBB

With financial support from climate funds

The money for the expansion came from the Swiss Climate Fund, with parliament in early September approving the expansion. 

The SBB has emphasised the environmental benefit of night trains in comparison with other modes of transport. 

“Night trains have a clearly demonstrable impact on the climate, as they shift travel from planes, cars or buses to trains,” the SBB said. 

READ: New Swiss Alps tunnel set to transform Europe's rail links 

According to calculations completed by the SBB, an approximate 50,000 tons of CO2 will be saved by using night trains – approximately 30,000 cars.

SBB CEO Vincent Ducrot said that Europe would again embrace night trains as an environmental friendly and convenient solution. 

“This development is sustainable and the demand for environmentally friendly and resource-saving mobility will continue to grow,” Ducrot said.  



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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.