New rail route connects Prague, Vienna and Budapest during pandemic

As international travel is reduced by the coronavirus pandemic, a private company has launched a new train service connecting Prague, Vienna and Budapest in the hopes it can compete with air travel.

RegioJet has already made its name as a low-cost bus company in the Czech Republic, serving destinations across Europe. The service has proved popular with students.

But the firm has branched into rail transport over the last decade. Company owner Radim Jančura believes the new environmentally-friendly route across Central Europe will be marketable.

“Especially (for the) young generation, they would like to be more ecological. So it means they will prefer to travel by train, if the travelling time is 4 to 6 hours,” he told Euronews.

The service reflects a growing trend for rail services to compete with established air routes — something that is already common on such Western European routes as Paris-London.

The RegioJet carriages are designed to offer a similar level of comfort to air travel, with built-in touchscreens and a food service.

But as a station-to-station service, the seven-hour journey from Prague to Budapest is not the speediest.

A direct flight between the Czech and Hungarian capitals takes 90 minutes on a route flown by both Ireland’s Ryanair and Czech Airlines.

Nonetheless, RegioJet’s owners says its service will be competitive and point out time is needed to travel to the airport and there is a wait before takeoff.

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