Rail innovation: ÖBB pours billions into sustainable investments

ÖBB Bilanz PK 2021 Copyright: ÖBB/Marek Knopp

Austrian railway company ÖBB will commit a budget of 1 billion euros until 2030 for renewable wind, solar and water traction energy. The massive investment will take place all while ÖBB produces spare train parts by 3D printing them sustainably.

ÖBB aims to maximise the use of renewable traction energy. Its target is to generate an additional 280 GWh to solidify the 100 per cent usage of clean energy for its traction power, which was secured with the revamp of the Spullersee hydroelectric power station in October last year.

With 1 billion euros set aside for this purpose, the Austrian company currently has another hydroelectric power plant under construction, on top of nine more already operational. In addition, ÖBB also operates 45 photovoltaic systems, while it also aims to enter into service its first wind turbine in 2022.

Besides using clean traction energy, ÖBB also commits to making train maintenance more financially and environmentally efficient. The Austrian company has recognised that 3D printing is an excellent solution for maintaining trains and locomotives.

Example of a 3D printed train spare part. Source: ÖBB

“Parts that rarely need replacement are often no longer produced by the manufacturers or only sold in large quantities, and purchasing them is not economical. Reprinting the parts yourself is often cheaper and, above all, more resource-efficient. Thanks to 3D printing, ÖBB can produce its spare parts individually and in small quantities, so the consumption of materials, storage and resources can be optimised”, commented the company.

Good results bring innovation

Investing in sustainable energy sources and innovative technologies is not new for ÖBB. However, the company’s positive performance over the last year enables it to focus more intensely on such targets. It is no coincidence that the company announced the 1 billion euros investment in renewable traction energy last week during its annual financial results review.

2021 was profitable for the company, with its financial performance reaching pre-pandemic levels and all its subgroups closing the year with a positive balance. Freight subsidiary Rail Cargo Groupo was among the growth drivers marking a 10 per cent increase in profit, reaching 174 million euros. “The growth in intermodal, steel, building materials and waste transport contributed to the increased revenue that was almost 50 million more than that of 2019”, said ÖBB. In total, the company transported 94,1 million tonnes of cargo in 2021.

“I am pleased that we are back on track and have been able to continue the economic success before the pandemic. This secures our ability to invest. It is the basis for rail expansion and our fleet and infrastructure modernisation”, commented ÖBB’s CEO Andreas Matthä, signalling a new round of innovative investments.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

1 comment op “Rail innovation: ÖBB pours billions into sustainable investments”

bönström bönström|02.05.22|20:33

ÖBB uniqely, contemporarily, is a well reputated, high quality rail performer. How do they do, how have they provided for success? (Most other state railways, electrified…, not sustainably, in no way timely, plague their clients, with disruptions, unplanned stops, etc…)

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