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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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Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts

Catch the very tail-end of the wine season and autumn foliage in one of the lesser-explored corners of the Austrian capital: Mauer.

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts
Beautiful views and cosy taverns await you on the edge of Vienna. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Wine-hiking is an autumn must-do in Austria, and although the official Wine Hiking Day (Weinwandertag) that usually draws crowds has been cancelled two years in a row during the pandemic, it’s possible to follow the routes through beautiful scenery and wine taverns on your own.

Mauer in the southwest of Vienna is one of the routes that is mostly frequented by locals.


The footpath takes you through scenic vineyards. Photo: Catherine Edwards

You can reach this part of the 23rd district using Vienna’s public transport, and you have a few options. From the Hietzing station on the U4 line, you can take the tramline 60 or bus 56A. The former will take you either to Mauer’s central square or you can get off earlier at Franz-Asenbauer-Gasse to start the hike. If it’s too early in the day for wine just yet, you could start your day at the small and charming Designo cafe (Geßlgasse 6).

Otherwise, the residential area itself doesn’t have much to see, but keep an eye out as you wander between the taverns later — there are some beautiful buildings.

To start the hike, head west along Franz-Asenbauer Gasse, which will take you up into the vineyards, growing some red wine and Vienna’s specialty Gemischter Satz or ‘field blend’, which as the name suggests is a mixture of different types of grapes.

Photo: Catherine Edwards

The paved road takes a left turn, but the hiking route follows a smaller path further upwards. Here you’ll have magnificent views over the whole of Vienna.

If you stick to the official hiking route (see a map from Weinwandern here) you can keep the whole route under 5 kilometres. But more adventurous types don’t need to feel limited.

You can also follow the Stadtwanderweg 6 route (see a map here) either in full, which will add on a hefty 13 kilometres, or just in part, and venture further into the Mauerwald. If you do this, one spot to aim for is the Schießstätte, a former hunting lodge offering hearty Austrian meals.

EXPLORE AUSTRIA

In any case, you should definitely take a small detour to see the Wotrubakirche, an example of brutalist architecture from the mid-1970s built on a site that was used as a barracks during the Second World War.

Not far from the church is the Pappelteich, a small pond that is not only an important habitat for local flora and fauna, but a popular picnic spot for hikers. Its only water supply is from the rain, and due to climate change the pond has almost dried out in recent years, prompting the city to take action to boost its water supply by adding a permanent pipe.


The church is made up of over 150 concrete blocks. Photo: Catherine Edwards

What you really come to Mauer for, though, are the Heuriger or Viennese wine taverns. 

The most well-known is Edlmoser (Maurer Lange Gasse 123) which has previously been named as the best in Vienna. Note that it’s not open all year so check the website, but in 2021 it should be open between November 5th and 21st, and is also serving the goose that is a popular feature on Viennese menus this time of year.

Tip for translating Heuriger opening times: look for the word ausg’steckt, which is used by those taverns which aren’t open year round. They will also often show that they’re open by attaching a bunch of green twigs to the sign or front door.


Buschenschank Grausenburger. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Also worth visiting are cosy Buschenschank Grausenburger (Maurer Lange Gasse 101a), Heuriger Wiltschko (Wittgensteinstrasse 143 — located near the start of the hiking route, this is a good place to begin your tour) and Heuriger Fuchs-Steinklammer (Jesuitensteig 28).

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