Genoa will in 2021 for the first time get a occasional direct ÖBB Nightjet overnight train to Vienna (photo © Rostislav Glinsky / dreamstime . com).
Yes, you read that title right! Austrian rail operator ÖBB will be running its stylish Nightjet services to some unusual destinations in 2021. On a limited number of dates, it’ll be possible to travel on a direct night train from Munich or Vienna to Rimini, Pesaro or Ancona – the latter three cities are all on Italy’s Adriatic coast.
Over on Italy’s west coast, there are some unusual cities popping up in Nightjet timetables too. The Tuscan town of Massa will get an occasional direct overnight train to Vienna, and Nightjet trains will also be seen for the very first time in Genoa.
The reason for these unusual Nightjet services is that on some weekends during the coming months the normal route used by some Nightjet services is closed for engineering work. The affected section of line is between Bologna and Florence, where the overnight sleeper services are routinely routed via the 18-km long Appennino Tunnel. These trains cannot use the fast high-speed line between the two cities, so with the Appennino line closed, we are seeing some very creative diversions which give the chance to test the market for overnight travel to and from Italian destinations which would not normally see Nightjet trains.
Most of the affected services are Saturday evening departures, and they affect the following routes:
The Vienna to Livorno service seems not to be affected as it does not generally run on a Saturday night. But the inbound service from Livorno to Vienna does run on Saturdays and on certain dates that train is diverted via Massa, La Spezia and Genoa, with scheduled stops in each place, then continuing from Genoa through northern Italy without any scheduled stops until it regains its original route at Padua. On these days the stops at Florence, Bologna, Ferrara and Rovino are omitted.
Interestingly, with RZD Russian Railways’ weekly Genoa to Vienna service currently suspended because of the pandemic, the occasional direct Nightjet from Genoa to the Austrian capital fills a useful gap in the timetable. On those Saturday nights when the Nightjet serves Genoa, it will depart from the Ligurian port at 19.56, with arrival in Vienna at 08.50 on Sunday morning – a travel time of about 13 hours, so markedly faster than the 17 hours which the Russian train takes.
The trains from Germany and Austria to Rome run in both directions on Saturdays, and there are at least a dozen days on which these services are all diverted between Bologna and Rome, so skipping the normal stop in Florence. The revised routing from Bologna is via Rimini and Pesaro to Ancona, where the train presumably needs to reverse. From Ancona these trains will run non-stop to Rome, apparently via Foligno. Both the Livorno and Rome route diversions add about three hours to the overall journey time.
The first date on which these diversions take place is Saturday 27 March. Dates in April and May when we expect these diversions to apply are 10.04., 17.04., 08.05., 15.05. and 22.05. There will be more dates throughout 2021 on which these diversions will apply.
Nightjets will not be the only Austrian trains to be seen in Rimini in 2021. ÖBB will run a once-daily direct Eurocity service from Munich and Innsbruck to Rimini during the summer season. The train is EC85 which runs year round from Munich to Bologna. But from 27 May to 11 September this train will be extended from Bologna to Rimini. The return journeys from Rimini to Innsbruck and Munich (Train Number EC84) will run from 28 May to 12 September inclusive.
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.