Prime Minister Jean Castex boarded last week the first night train from Paris to Nice. He disembarked at 9:06 am the following morning from the Blue Train, named after the night trains that first connected the capital to the Côte d’Azur in 1883, back when the line also ran from Calais to Rome.
The Prime Minister’s 1,000 kilometre railway adventure inaugurated the return of the service from Paris – Nice. At the platform, Jean Castex was greeted by the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, and they had a coffee together on the famous Cours Saleya. The French government recently announced a budget of 6.4 billion euros for the rail network, or double the normal budget.
Le Paris-Nice n’est que le début. Mon objectif : une dizaine de trains de nuit en 2030. Voici tous ceux qui seront débattus au Parlement : pic.twitter.com/JnfVhsRS1e
— Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (@Djebbari_JB) May 21, 2021
“Paris-Nice is just the beginning”
The Intercités Paris-Nice will travel every night from both directions: Paris-Austerlitz and Nice-Ville, with six stops in between, including Marseille, Toulon and Cannes. The government also wants to relaunch the Paris-Tarbes and a Paris-Munich-Vienna night train at the end of the year.
“Paris-Nice is just the beginning. My goal: ten night trains by 2030,” Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted on Friday.
At the beginning of this year, there were only two night lines left in France. In 2017, the night train from Nice closed. But the national financial situation and the shift towards greener modes of transportation has radically changed since then.
A few years ago, planes became more popular than trains, but a shift is already leaning back towards rail, possibly because of the pandemic. The French government may reduce VAT on train tickets while establishing a minimum price for plane tickets.
Trains are less polluting than planes and connect stations in small towns all over the country. Trains are also a part of France’s history, hailed as the most romantic mode of transportation, one which helps passengers feel connected to the landscapes, people and places of the region.