The first night train from Berlin to Paris pulled into Paris Gare de l’Est at 10.24 am on Tuesday in nearly a decade. The momentous return of the Berlin-Paris Night train to the tracks marks a step towards promoting cleaner alternatives to air travel in Europe.

The maiden journey of the newly established “Berlin link” embarked from Berlin at 8.18 pm on Monday as a fully booked train. The passengers experienced the charm of slow travel.

The French Transport Minister Clément Beaune boarded the train and welcomed his German counterpart Volker Wissing before departure.

Minister Beaune highlighted the environmental and European significance of the project. The train’s route was met with cheers along the way. The local politicians in Strasbourg gathered on the platform before 6 am, waving French, German, and European flags to welcome the night train.

Green MEP for northern France Karima Delli expressed her joy and satisfaction stating: “What joy – job done.” Delli added: “We’ll keep going.”

The sleeper service between Berlin and Paris was a long-awaited demand from travellers, local politicians, and green campaigners. The revival of night trains signifies a notable shift back to favouring slow travel and cleaner transportation options in the face of the challenges and decline in popularity faced by night trains in the early 21st century.

Operated by the French and German national train operators, SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, and with rolling stock provided by the Austrian train company ÖBB, known for its “Nightjet” trains in central Europe, the Berlin to Paris night train connection represents a collaboration of European railway prowess.

The reintroduction of the Berlin-Paris night train service aligns with French President Emmanuel Macron’s 2020 announcement of plans to open 10 new sleeper services by 2030, reflecting a commitment to expanding sustainable travel options. This commitment is further illustrated by the recent launch of a new sleeper train from Paris to Aurillac in the Cantal region, 20 years after the service was discontinued.

The French government invested €100 million (£86 million) to revive the national network and prepare new carriages for the renewed sleeper train service. Deutsche Bahn has plans to expand its night-train connections to 13 other large European cities through partnerships with other operators.