Austria: over 21 billion euros for rail expansion between 2024-29
More than 21 billion euros have been approved by the Austrian government for railway expansion between the years 2024 and 2029. This is an increase on the previous plans to spend 19 billion euros in 2023-28. Around 4.7 billion euros have been earmarked with ÖBB to maintain existing rail infrastructure. Concerning rail freight, the focus will be on building sidings to allow for a more efficient use of the infrastructure.
The ÖBB framework plan is essentially a blueprint for the federal government’s investment strategy to improve the ÖBB railway network. The newly adopted 2024-2029 framework plan will bring about changes to project timelines and budgets, while also allowing for the incorporation of other important priorities. The ultimate objective is to boost the transportation of people and goods by rail as part of a long-term effort to promote sustainable transportation and address climate concerns. To achieve this goal, it’s crucial to create more capacity by establishing new and more efficient rail routes.
Major ÖBB projects such as the Semmering Base Tunnel, the Koralm Railway and the Brenner Base Tunnel are continuing as planned. In addition, the focus is on expanding local transport in urban centres. In terms of climate protection, it is also important for ÖBB to make regional railways more attractive and to push ahead with a corresponding electrification programme. The further expansion of infrastructure facilities for freight transport will also be of great importance. Part of the investment will flow into digitalisation with a view to the future.
Another priority is the expansion of renewable energies. The construction of further “mini-transformers” is a new addition to the framework plan so that the electricity produced sustainably in ÖBB’s own wind and solar power plants can be fed into the railway power grid. The priorities already set, such as the modernisation and partial electrification of regional trains, are also still on track. Train operations are also being further digitised for greater safety and more capacity.
During the previous framework plan period, rail travellers could already witness several notable infrastructure investments. For instance, the recently constructed Ebreichsdorf station on the Pottendorf line became operational in September 2023. Furthermore, the completion of the double-track expansion for the approximately 50-kilometre Pottendorf Line, running between Vienna Meidling and Wiener Neustadt, is expected in 2023.
The Marchegger Ostbahn project, one of the most significant electrification initiatives in recent years, is on track to be finished by the end of 2022. The electrified railway connecting Vienna and Bratislava is slated for full activation by the end of 2024, pending the progress of the Slovakian Railways project. In addition, over 26 out of 27.3 kilometres of the twin-tube tunnel in the Semmering Base Tunnel have already been excavated. The Carinthian section of the Koralm railway is scheduled to commence operations at the end of 2023, which is two years before the entire railway between Graz and Klagenfurt is set to be commissioned in 2025.
This article was originally published on our sister publication RailTech.com