Austrian Government cuts railway investments

Koralm Tunnel inauguration, postponed for 2026

Austria’s new federal government has recently published the state budget for 2018-2019 resulting in significant cuts of investments for rail infrastructure. Thus, EUR 2 billion will be cut of the initial budget of EUR 13.9 billion to be allocated to Austrian Railways (ÖBB). According to the Government in Vienna, in 2018, ÖBB will receive with EUR 451 million fewer investment funds and with EUR 688 million less money for investments in 2019.

In fact, these cuts of financial grants mean that the development of some major railway projects will be significantly affected. The most affected will be Koralm Rail Tunnel which is being built between Graz and Klagenfurt. The Tunnel will no longer be inaugurated in 2024, as scheduled, but in 2026.

Other projects developed by ÖBB to be delayed because of budget cuts include Müllendorf rail bypass, the modernisation of Vienna – Bernhardsthal railway, the reconstruction of Hütteldorf – Meidling railway (to be reconstructed and adapted for S-Bahn services in Vienna), as well as a series of other projects of railway electrification.

Koralm rail tunnel is in full process of construction in the south-east of Austria. ÖBB Infrastruktur, the infrastructure division of Austrian Railways, is in charge with the implementation of the project, part of the Baltic-Adriatic TEN-T Corridor that stretches over 2,400 km from Gdansk to Gdynia, located on the northern coast of Poland and, via Warsaw and Vienna, up to Bologna and Ravenna, both cities in the north of Italy. Semmering rail tunnel is also part of the Baltic-Adriatic rail Corridor. The two rail tunnels, Koralm and Semmering, will have direct connection, after the finalization of works.

Just as the Semmering tunnel, Koralm tunnel is integrated part of a railway, Koralm high-speed railway connecting the cities of Klagenfurt (capital of Carinthia land) and Graz (capital of Styria land), considerably reducing the travel time between the two cities, from the present three hours to less than one hour.

Works are estimated to cost EUR 11 billion and include the construction of a double, electrified railway with a length of 130 km, 12 stations and stops, as well as a new 32.9km tunnel, the longest tunnel ever built in Austria.

Koralm railway will be operational in 2026 (according to the new estimates generated by budgetary cuts). Upon completion, the new line will facilitate de daily transit of up to 256 high-speed trains with a capacity of 250 km/h.

Railway PRO magazine provides you more details about Koralm and Semmering railway tunnels  

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