Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a contract for €1.8 billion to expand and upgrade the Southern Route (Südstrecke). In particular, the Semmering base tunnel, a development phase of the South Vienna freight terminal, and part of the planned double-track section of the Pottendorf Line will be financed. These construction projects are located in the Baltic-Adriatic corridor of the European TEN-T core network. The total volume will be disbursed over the next three years in tranches of EUR 600m.
“The upgrading of the Südstrecke is a crucial project for the railways and for Austria as an economic hub. In this way, we are creating the conditions for faster and less polluting mobility. Under this partnership with the EIB, we are financing this economically beneficial project on favourable terms,”stated the Chief Financial Officer of ÖBB-Holding AG Josef Halbmay.
The Semmering base tunnel between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag is about 27.3 km long and comprises two parallel bores. Thanks to the tunnel’s low gradient of around 0.85%, heavy freight trains can also be transported in the future using a single locomotive. This will generate a clear time and cost advantage in comparison with the current situation, in which trains often have to be spit up and locomotives added. Passenger trains will travel through the tunnel at 250 km/h resulting in a time saving of 30 minutes for the journey between Vienna and Graz.
The new South Vienna freight terminal on the edge of the city will cover an area of around 55 ha in the initial phase. It is as important for intermodal freight traffic as Vienna’s main railway station is for passengers: a central gateway for all journeys to the north, south, east and west. The tunnel has a maximum capacity of 145 000 intermodal transport units per year.
The doubling of the tracks of an approximately 24 km long section of the Pottendorf Line between Hennersdorf, Münchendorf and Wampersdorf will considerably increase the capacity of the Südstrecke. When the whole project has been completed, four tracks will be available between Vienna and Wiener Neustadt. Thus, the successful “Vienna-St. Pölten 4-track development” model will be applied to the Südstrecke and further improved.