The Austrian rail infrastructure will benefit a EUR 21.1 billion investment under the ÖBB framework plan 2024-2029, which is increased by EUR 2 billion compared to the previous 2023 – 2028 plan when EUR 19 billion was available for rail projects.
“With the framework plan, we are securing the railway expansion programme in the long term. The plan will enable more trains and attractive connections in passenger and freight transport. This framework plan is therefore an indispensable milestone on the way to the transport transition,” said Leonore Gewessler, the minister Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).
ÖBB major projects such as the Semmering Base Tunnel, the Koralmbahn and the Brenner Base Tunnel are continuing as planned.In addition, the focus is on expanding local transport in metropolitan areas.In the interests of climate protection, it is also important for ÖBB to make regional trains more attractive and to promote a corresponding electrification programme.The further expansion of infrastructure for freight transport will also be of great importance.Part of the investments will also go into digitalisation in a future-oriented manner.
In a challenging economic environment that has already been marked by high inflation over the past two years, inflation forecasts remain high. “Nevertheless, we managed to secure financing for the expansion projects to date. This means we are not only a reliable mobility provider who can meet increasing demand through consistent expansion, but also a stable partner to the economy,” ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä, said.
Under the ÖBB framework plan 2024-2029, the first funds are being used for the construction of the new Köstendorf – Salzburg line. The four-track expansion of the Western Line before Salzburg will enable higher capacities and thus a better offer in passenger and freight transport as well as in local and long-distance transport.
Also new in the master plan are the double-track expansion of the Werndorf – Hügel line, as an important section towards South-Eastern Europe and the port of Koper, the double-track expansion of the Nettingsdorf – Rohr-Bad Hall section on the Pyhrn Line and two regional rail projects covering the Herzogenburg – St. Pölten and the attractiveness of the Ossiacherseebahn.
The programme for the construction of so-called freight train-length passing sidings have the greatest possible effect with comparatively little effort. The joint use of the same lines by freight and passenger traffic can thus be handled even more efficiently. Support measures for connecting railways and the modernisation for marshalling yards also anchor the current freight traffic offensive in the framework plan.
The approved five-year investment plan for the Austrian rail infrastructure adjusts the schedules and costs of the ongoing projects and priorities other important projects to be implemented in order to deliver a faster and more comfortable transport service for both passengers and freight. This requires more capacity through new and better utilised routes.
Thanks to optimised project implementation for the Hinterstoder – Pießling-Vorderstoder double track expansion (Pyhrn Line), the planned commissioning could be moved forward by around three years from 2034 to the end of 2031, ÖBB says. The start of construction on the northern section of the Northern Railway will be postponed by two years, while the start of construction on the sectional double-track expansion of the Franz Josef Railway will be postponed by three years.In Vienna there is an adjustment to the connecting railway project: construction is now not scheduled to start until 2025.ÖBB says that the reason for this in all three cases is longer official procedures.
Along the Western Line, the commissioning of the four-track Linz East extension was postponed by one year, from the end of 2032 to the end of 2033, as part of the revision of the construction schedule.For the four-track expansion on the Linz–Marchtrenk route, the expected commissioning had to be postponed by one year, from the end of 2030 to the end of 2031, due to the long-running and now completed official procedure.
The schedule for the northern access to the Brenner Pass (new line from Schaftenau to the Radfeld junction) will also be adjusted.Due to the dependency on the timeline of other projects along the Brenner axis, the start of the main construction work will be postponed to 2028 and the commissioning is scheduled for 2037.
The ÖBB framework plan 2024-2029 is also focused on the expansion of renewable energies, including the construction of further “mini-transformers” so that the electricity sustainably produced in ÖBB’s own wind and solar power plants can be fed into the rail power grid. Also continuing on track are the priorities already set, such as the modernisation and partial electrification of regional trains. In addition, train operations are being further digitised for greater safety and more capacity.
EUR 4.7 billion will be also used for Austrian rail infrastructure projects to increase safety and punctuality through a consistent maintenance of the existing network, in addition to the EUR 21.1 billion.
In view of the forthcoming organisational integration of the GKB infrastructure division into ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, the infrastructure projects of Graz-Köflacher-Bahn (GKB) are also included in the framework plan for the first time, with an investment sum of around EUR 500 million and the necessary maintenance funds.
In order to make access to the train as easy as possible for as many people, the barrier-free conversion of train stations and stops is part of the general plan. The modernisation of train stations and stops is also being pushed forward with the features including the Straßwalchen train station renovation and the attractiveness improvements in Maishofen-Saalbach and Leogang on the occasion of the upcoming Alpine Ski World Cup 2025 which will take place in Saalbach on 4 – 16 February 2025.
In the last framework plan, ÖBB has opened the newly built Ebreichsdorf station on the Pottendorf line, and by the end of this year will complete the double-track expansion of the 50 km Pottendorf line between Vienna Meidling and Wiener Neustadt.
At the end of 2022 ÖBB has completed the largest electrification project in recent years with the overhaul the Marchegger Ostbahn including the modernisation of all stations along the route where Park&Ride and Bike&Ride facilities have been built. ÖBB also plans the full commissioning of the electrified line between Vienna and Bratislava by the end of 2024, depending on the progress of the Slovak Railways project.
There is also one important milestone after the next on the Southern Line as more than 26 km of the total 27.3 km of the two-tube tunnel have already been dug for the Semmering Base Tunnel. The Carinthian section of the Koralmbahn will go into operation at the end of 2023 – two years before the full commissioning between Graz and Klagenfurt in 2025.