Luxury night bus service between Zurich and Barcelona to launch in 2024
In 2024, a brand new luxury bus service is expected to launch in Switzerland, with its inaugural route planned between Zurich and Barcelona. Taking inspiration from both night trains and business class flights, the Twiliner will feature the first-ever lie-flat beds to be fitted to a bus in Europe.
Twiliner designed to bridge gap between flying and night trains
Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, Twiliner founder Luca Bortolani explained that the bus service is designed to fill demand on routes that are yet to be connected via night train. While night rail services have proven especially popular in recent years as concerns about the climate grow, many rail routes will take years or even decades to be made a reality. At the same time, while cheap long-distance buses are available, their lack of comfort makes them unthinkable for many.
With this in mind, Twiliner hopes to run a quasi-night train route using a more luxurious bus. Their first route will be from Zurich to Barcelona, with a so-called “Diplomatic Line” planned between Geneva, Bern, Brussels and Antwerp, should the first route prove a success. Other lines to Amsterdam, Munich, London and 20 other major cities are planned beyond 2025.
First-ever lie-flat bed in a bus in Europe
Unlike the ever-fatiguing nature of regular overnight buses, Twiliner has taken its inspiration from night trains and business-class flights. As a result, the buses will only have 21 passengers but feature lie-flat seats - a first for bus travel in Europe - and ample room for luggage.
For those worried that a 21-person bus doesn’t sound too environmentally friendly, the Twiliner founder explained that the service will run on biodiesel. This means that a trip on the service will generate 93 percent less CO2 per person than a plane, but more than a night train.
Continuing the idea of the bus being the middle ground between a trip to the airport and the train station, prices are expected to start at 230 francs for a one-way journey - cheaper than most rooms in night trains but more expensive than flying.
Video: Twiliner / YouTube
Zurich to Barcelona bus line set to open in late 2024
Speaking to the newspaper, Thomas Sauter-Servaes from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences said he was impressed by the idea, especially its potential to open up “miniature night train” routes before the actual rail connections are built. However, he said that the concept does have its limits in terms of capacity, and that if flying remains as cheap as it is today, luxury night buses will remain a “niche” concept.
For Twiliner, the very last fly in the ointment relates to the lie-flat seat, as it had to make a design from scratch in order to meet European safety standards. The company expects its seat to be approved in April. “I am 75 percent convinced that our first bus will be on the road in September 2024,” Bortolani concluded.