Minister Leonore Gewessler and ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä presented the priorities for planning the Austrian rail network over the next 20 years with the target timetable for 2040. A total of 26 billion euros should therefore be made available for the construction of strategically important rail connections.
- Editorial on the topic: Railway network in Austria: From east to west great, from north to south ugh
Gewessler named the most important project in the 2040 target timetable as the construction of a new double-track line from Wels through the Hausruck and Innviertel districts to the state border with Germany. The aim is to reduce the travel time between Vienna and Munich from four hours today to two and a half hours in the future and from Linz to Munich to 1:20 hours. The western route is also to be expanded to four tracks between Wels and Lambach.
The route required for this is currently being examined in Germany. Gewessler: “Together with Deutsche Bahn, we are developing a completely new project in the long-distance timetable.” The desired shorter travel time should also make more distant international destinations such as Paris easier to reach. In addition, an expansion of the existing Innkreisbahn should strengthen regional transport in the region and improve the connection to the central Linz area.
Video: Presentation of the railway expansion plans until 2040
New Bosruck Tunnel
Also included in the 2040 target network is an upgrade of the Pyhrn line for freight traffic through the construction of a new Bosruck tunnel. “We will expand this route as a flat railway so that 1,600-ton trains can travel here,” said ÖBB boss Matthä. A double-track expansion with several overtaking options is intended to bring long-distance, local and freight traffic on the Pyhrn line under one roof.
However, the double-track expansion of the Summerauerbahn did not make it into the target network (see below). According to Gewessler, this still requires coordination with the Czech Republic: “We will of course continue to think ahead after 2040. The Linz-Prague axis will be very important for the period from 2040 onwards.”
Specific timetables for the measures mentioned have not yet been given. However, ÖBB boss Matthä said that the target timetable determines which projects will be tackled in the 2030s. The question was now where bottlenecks could be expected in Austria based on traffic forecasts: “This is particularly the case along the European traffic axes that run through Austria, as well as around our metropolitan areas.” All available measures were subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.
Throbbing on Summerauerbahn
The reactions from Upper Austria yesterday focused primarily on the Summerauerbahn. The importance of an efficient north-south connection is underestimated. “The expansion of the Summerauerbahn has been vehemently called for for 30 years, but active measures have not been taken. There is enormous potential for benefit from this connection, especially in a Europe that is growing together,” said State Governor Thomas Stelzer and Infrastructure State Councilor Günther Steinkellner. The inclusion of the Summerauer and Pyhrnbahn in the European “TEN-T core networks” is a basic prerequisite for this.
The new line from Wels to the state border and the double-track expansion to Micheldorf on the Pyhrnbahn were welcomed.
A broken promise
On Wednesday, the completed modernization of eleven train stations along the Summerauerbahn was celebrated in Wartberg ob der Aist. A day later, people in Upper Austria waited in vain for the route to be included in the 2040 target network. Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler had announced when she approved the construction of the S10 Freistadt-Nord with the Rainbach bypass: “The Climate Protection Ministry, together with the ÖBB, will carry out investigations for “Start the expansion of the Summerauerbahn into a high-performance route. Two and a half hours from Linz to Prague: That’s possible and that’s our vision.”
- Read more: Modernize eleven train stations on the Summerau railway line
Yesterday Gewessler postponed until after 2040. The OÖN wanted to know why the inclusion of the Summerauerbahn in the target network for 2040 failed. The ministry said that the project could only be effective if the relevant routes were built not only in Austria but also in the Czech Republic. “That is the main reason why the experts have only scheduled the expansion of the Linz – Prague axis for the period after 2040.” However, ÖBB continued the in-depth investigations with Czech Railways in order to prepare implementation in line with the construction measures in the neighboring country for the period after 2040.
Infrastructure Regional Councilor Günther Steinkellner contradicts this representation: “The Czech Republic has already set its first course by establishing a 160 km/h high-speed line as a north-south connection to Budweis.” The expansion of Budweis towards the Austrian border was then no longer pursued. On the grounds that Austria is not making any infrastructural speed improvements.
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