Belgium Leads EU Push for Night Trains Amidst Growing Environmental Concerns

In a bold move aimed at tackling environmental challenges and reshaping Europe’s travel landscape, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet, is spearheading a campaign to promote night trains as a sustainable alternative to short-haul flights.

As Belgium takes on the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Gilkinet is set to push for a continent-wide embrace of sleeper trains during the upcoming EU informal meeting of transport ministers in early April.

Belgium, in partnership with Austria, has emerged as a trailblazer in the revival of night trains, and Gilkinet is determined to enlist other EU member states in this transformative journey.

At the heart of his advocacy lies the conviction that night trains represent the future of European travel, offering a greener and more efficient alternative to air transport.

With growing concerns over the environmental impact of aviation, Gilkinet’s push for night trains comes at a pivotal moment. Across Europe, there is a palpable shift in consumer preferences, with an increasing number of travellers seeking sustainable alternatives to flying.

This sentiment is echoed in a 2021 survey commissioned by Europe on Rail, which revealed that over half of respondents in key European countries—including Germany, Poland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands—are eager to replace flights with rail travel.

The momentum for change is further fueled by recent developments in France, where the government has enacted a ban on short-haul flights, a move that has garnered widespread support.

Spain is also contemplating similar measures, signaling a broader trend towards prioritizing environmentally-friendly modes of transportation.

Gilkinet’s confidence in persuading the European Commission to prioritize night trains is grounded in both environmental imperatives and shifting consumer preferences.

By leveraging Belgium’s leadership role within the EU, Gilkinet aims to accelerate the integration of sleeper trains into Europe’s transportation network, fostering greater connectivity between major cities while reducing carbon emissions.

Central to Gilkinet’s vision is the recognition that night trains not only offer a sustainable mode of travel but also enhance the overall passenger experience.

Beyond environmental benefits, sleeper trains provide passengers with a comfortable and convenient alternative, allowing them to maximize their time while minimizing the hassle associated with air travel.

As Belgium assumes its presidency of the Council of the European Union, Gilkinet’s agenda-setting efforts are poised to reshape the future of European transportation.

With the support of like-minded allies such as Austria and a groundswell of public demand for sustainable travel options, Gilkinet is optimistic about the prospects for advancing the night train agenda on the European stage.

In the weeks ahead, all eyes will be on Brussels as EU transport ministers convene to discuss the future of European mobility.

With night trains firmly on the agenda, Gilkinet’s advocacy is set to catalyze a continent-wide shift towards greener, more sustainable modes of transportation, paving the way for a brighter, more environmentally-conscious future.

As Europe embarks on this transformative journey, one thing is clear: the era of the night train has dawned, and Belgium is leading the way towards a more sustainable and connected future.


This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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