The Austrian Government has announced a €21.1bn ($22.48bn) investment into the country’s rail network through national railway company ÖBB’s new framework plan, which outlined an expansion of services in line with ambitions to promote rail as a more sustainable travel option.
In addition to continuing work on large projects, such as the Brenner Base Tunnel, the 2024-2029 framework will focus on expanding regional passenger services in metropolitan areas and furthering the company’s electrification programme, as well as improving infrastructure for freight operations.
Climate Action, Mobility and Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler said: “The expansion decided in the 2024-2029 framework plan will enable more trains and attractive connections in passenger and freight transport in the long term. This makes it an indispensable milestone on the way to a transport transition.”
Alongside regional expansion and electrification, several other issues were highlighted in the framework’s allocation of funding, including improving accessibility, expanding the use of renewable energy and investing an additional €4.7bn, separate from the €21.1bn funding, into the maintenance of existing infrastructure.
New projects were also announced, such as the construction of a new four-track Köstendorf to Salzburg line, a double-track expansion of the Werndorf to Hügel and Nettingsdorf to Rohr-Bad Hall lines, building the regional Herzogenburg – St. Pölten line and improving the look of the Ossiacher Lake train.
Described at its launch as “Austria’s largest rail package”, the latest funding represents a step up from ÖBB’s previous framework period for 2023-2028, which was backed by an investment of €19bn.
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This led Gewessler and ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä to highlight the economic benefits of the framework, stating that a billion-euro investment during the construction phase should generate 15,000 jobs.
Matthä highlighted the framework’s publication amid a challenging economic environment, saying: “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 has also recently announced a significant investment into a new fleet for its operations, with a €5bn agreement with Siemens Mobility for the purchase of up to 540 single-deck electric multiple-unit trains from the manufacturer’s Mireo family.