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Photo report: Heavy snowfall in Austria. How does ÖBB deal with it?

Photo report: Heavy snowfall in Austria. How does ÖBB deal with it?
photo: ÖBB press materials/Video: Heavy snowfall in Austria. How does ÖBB deal with it?
15 / 02 / 2022

Winter snow can be a lot of fun for kids, not so much for the railway employees. Despite heavy snowfall in Tyrol and Vorarlberg the ÖBB winter service put in a force of 240 employees in those areas and special equipment to make sure that all train operations can run as smoothly as possible.

"Thanks to the good and forward-looking planning that we made in advance, we and our teams were well prepared for the winter service in Tyrol and Vorarlberg. With their commitment, almost 240 employees ensured that, apart from a few restrictions, such as in the Hochfilzen area, almost all trains ran on time according to the timetable," says Christian Wieser, Regional Manager West, ÖBB-Infrastruktur SAE.

Details of specific areas in this effort include:

Wörgl: 70 employees in two shifts, including 10 from external companies, as well as two climatic snowplows, two-track trailers with snow brushes and snow blowers as well as two‑way excavators with snow blowers. Five more employees were deployed to make sure the switches in the area work without an issue under the conditions the snow brought in.

Areas of the Brennerbahn and Mittenwaladbahn routes (area of ​​ASC Innsbruck, ÖBB-Infrastuktur AG):  24 employees worked in two shifts on the Mittenwaldbahn route, as well as a rail-mounted snow clearing vehicle called Robel with a brush. On the Brenner railway line, 38 employees worked in two shifts, 10 of them from external companies, and a superstructure wagon with a brush. Climatic snowplow was also used during February 2nd and 3rd 2022. 14 more employees worked in two shifts in the main station in Innsbruck, as well as superstructure wagons with brushes.

Areas of the Arlbergbahn and Aussefernbahn routes (ASC Bludenz area, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG): 72 employees, including 10 from external companies, worked in two shifts along the Arlbergbahn route, as well as two climatic controlled snowplows and three rail-mounted snow clearing vehicles with brushes. 14 employees in two shifts worked on the Ausserfernbahn line, as well as a climatic snowplow and a rail-mounted snow clearing vehicle with a brush.

The avalanche commissions of the ÖBB are monitoring the situation on both lines to assess the situation in cooperation with the avalanche commissions of the federal states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Around 40 million euros is the ÖBB investment in winter services every year. That amount of money allows ÖBB to deploy up to 400 employees in Tyrol and Vorarlberg areas and allows them to service over 1,000 kilometers of rails and over 120 stations and stops. Around 5,000 employees work in two shifts nationwide to make smooth rail operations possible. The main focus for them is tracks, switches, and platforms.

ÖBB has two snowblowers but they are around 40 years old. Therefore, a new high-performance snow blower was purchased and is in use since last winter. It is a machine with a rotating frame concept and has 2 x 1,000 hp (travel and centrifugal drive), weights 77 tons, has 4 axles, and a clearing capacity of up to 15,000 tons/hour. This new machine, while a big help, still doesn’t clear all the snow by itself and a lot of manual labor is necessary. Such as clearing snow from switches, deicing bridges and tunnels, shoveling off-platform roofs etc.