Yet Another Long-Distance Startup Operator Ends Its Activities

After Railcoop, yet another passenger rail start-up – Midnight Trains – has ended its activities in the face of the high market barriers to entry.

Midnight Trains envisioned comfortable and climate-friendly cross-border night train services, such as between Paris and Venice.

This is another stark reminder that the EU passenger rail market remains much more open in legislation than it is in reality.

ALLRAIL calls on the next EU legislature to take strong measures to remove the long identified market barriers to enable an innovative, competitive and affordable passenger rail system.

Midnight Trains ran into an insurmountable – and well-documented – wall built from the same old bricks: entrenched market barriers. In the English language blog entry about ending its activities, Midnight Trains says:

“The rail market has mainly opened up to itself. This market was organised by the public authorities for their own historical operators, not to really create new players. Each European country can see its neighbours land on its territory and vice versa. These operators have the goods (rolling stock) and the means (financing and public guarantee bodies) to deploy.

…. we listened too closely to the claims, but didn’t look enough at the actions of the French and European public authorities.

…. We really hope that in the coming years, the EU Commission, Member States, as well as the organising authorities, will build a railway capable of welcoming new innovative companies. We hope that this dynamic will allow investment funds to take an interest in rail, so that other entrepreneurs can succeed in creating new uses and improving the train travel experience.

ALLRAIL Policy Officer Salim Benkirane says: “The fact that Midnight Trains’ project was among the cross-border pilots that the European Commission selected should serve as a wake-up call for the new EU Parliament and Commission. How many promising passenger rail start-ups must be sacrificed before action is taken to achieve a genuine Single European Railway Area?”