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High speed rail network in Austria

High speed rail network in Austria
photo: Status of HSR network in Austria/High speed rail network in Austria
04 / 08 / 2021

The Austrian rail system, or even more broadly - the entire Austrian transport system, is a transit one characterized by difficult terrain through the Alps. The program of adapting the rail network to new transport needs, including the construction of high-speed rail, is based on activities performed on relatively short line sections.

Status of the preparatory works

The first corridor to be modernized was the Vienna - Linz - Salzburg line. The works have been carried out since 1987. First, the Linz - Wels section was modernized to the speed of 200 km/h with some track geometry issued also being eliminated. In the 2000s activities focused mainly on the Linz - Sankt Pölten section. It is worth mentioning here the line section between Sankt Valentin and Linz, which was modernized to a higher speed - 230 km/h (2007). In 2012, a new 50 km line section was opened between the Wien Meidling station and Sankt Pölten. This route has been adjusted mostly to the speed of 250 km/h and aims to improve the capacity on the most-loaded section of the route - the new route supports transit and long-distance traffic, and the old one handles local and transit traffic. The next and completely new section of the route between Ybbs and Amstetten, which was also adapted to the speed of 250 km/h, was put into service in 2016. In the 2020s, further works are scheduled to increase the speed of the line, mainly between Linz and Salzburg.

The second corridor planned for modernization is the one from Vienna to the southwest - to Graz, Klagenfurt, and Villach, and then to Venice, Trieste, and Ljubljana. In this case, apart from modernization works, the construction of a completely new section of the line between Graz and Klagenfurt was planned - there was no such connection at all, and the corridor was branched on separate lines to Graz, Maribor, Klagenfurt, and Villach. The construction of the new line started in 2001, it is expected to be completed by 2025. The line will have a maximum speed of 250 km/h. Its length will be more than 120 km, of which 33 km line is in tunnels under the mountains of Koralm. The travel time from Graz to Klagenfurt on this route will last 45 minutes (currently, due to the lack of a direct line – it is 3 hours by rail or 2 hours by bus). The second newly built line section in this corridor is the tunnel under the Semmering Pass. Its construction will allow travel time to be reduced by 30 minutes due to the shorter route and higher speed - 250 km/h. The third section constructed in this corridor is a line from Vienna to Wiener Neustadt, which is to increase the capacity of the Vienna node and separate long-distance and local traffic. In the longer term, a new line will also be created between Graz and Bruck an der Mur. In the coming years, work will be carried out at the exit from the Vienna node on the following sections:

- Wien Meidling – Wampersdorf – Wr. Neustadt – Gloggnitz: upgrade. The project aims to increase capacity in the section Wien - Wr. Neustadt and to reduce travel time in the section Wr. Neustadt – Gloggnitz. Financing is secured with national funds (ÖBB-Rahmenplan)

- Wien Meidling – Altmansdorf: upgrade and track duplication (2020-12/2023)

- Wien Blumenthal - Münchendorf: upgrade up to 200 km/h and track duplication (2014-12/2019)

- Münchendorf - Wampersdorf: upgrade up to 200 km/h and track duplication (2020-12/2023)

- Wampersdorf - Wiener Neustadt: upgrade to 160 km/h (2018-12/2023)

- Wiener Neustadt - Gloggnitz: upgrade to 160 km/h (2023)

The third of the main modernized corridors run south through the western part of the country connecting Munich in Germany to the Italian city of Bolzano through Innsbruck in Austria. As part of the works, a line section between Wörgl and Volders-Baumkirchen was modernized to a speed of 220 km/h and a freight bypass in Innsbruck was built. The modernization of the line to the German border is also planned. The largest investment within this corridor is the ongoing construction of a tunnel under the Brenner Pass between Innsbruck and Fortezza in Italy. After its connection to the existing tunnel on the southern freight bypass, the tunnel will be the longest rail tunnel in the world. It is planned as a line designed for 250 km/h. Works on borderlines to Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary have also been planned and have partially commenced.

The projects implemented under the Slavkov Working Group are as follows:

- Wien Süßenbrunn (i) – border AT/CZ next Berhardsthal. The planned upgrade of this line. The project aims to reduce the travel time between Wien Hbf and Breclav to approximately 45', increase capacity and safety by removing level crossings and modernize train services. The line is divided into the following sections:

- Wien Süßenbrunn – Gänserndorf: upgrade up to 160 km/h and capacity increase - 2022-12/2027

- Gänserndorf – border AT/CZ next Bernhardsthal: upgrade up to 200 km/h and capacity increase - 2021

- Gänserndorf – border AT/SK near Marchegg: upgrade to 120 km/h and electrification. The project aims to allow the use of electric traction on the routing from Bratislava via Gänserndorf, Stockerau, Tullnerfeld St. Pölten and further, mainly for freight trains and to improve regional transport in the Gänserndorf - Marchegg area.

Parameters and location of the lines

The main data regarding planned high-speed lines in Austria are shown in Table 1. The location of the lines is shown in Fig. 1. The map has been prepared to take into account connections with neighboring States.