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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is financing the extension of one of Europe’s most important rail links. In 2007 and 2008 the EIB provided loans totalling EUR 400 million for the four-track extension of the Vienna-St. Pölten section and has today signed another finance contract for EUR 600 million for the final part of the project covering the sections between St. Pölten and Loosdorf (25 km-long goods train bypass), Ybbs and Amstetten (17 km) and the eastern approach to Linz (1.7 km).

The western section, the part of the Danube line from Salzburg to Vienna, which is around 300 km long, is one Austria’s busiest rail corridors. It is part of the priority trans-European network (TEN project No 17), which runs from Paris via Strasbourg, Stuttgart and Vienna to Bratislava. This central European railway line will improve communications between western and eastern Europe. It takes account of the ever-growing demand for transport facilities, carrying goods as well as passengers.

Following the completion of major sections of the western line over the past few years, a new 60 km-long high-speed section between Vienna and St. Pölten will open this year on 9 December, a milestone in the history of Austrian railways and a big step towards having four tracks between Vienna and Wels. The increased capacity will make rail transport even more flexible and more reliable. The extended section will also enable trains to travel at a higher speed in future, which means shorter journey times. Furthermore, it will mean that, even with the constant growth in traffic volumes, people will not have to switch to using roads. The project will thus make an important contribution towards sustainable transport, which is one of the focal points of the EIB’s activities. As goods traffic will finally be diverted around St. Pölten, this will reduce noise pollution in the town.

At the signing of the loan contract EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer said that “Austria’s transport infrastructure today links western and eastern Europe in an exemplary manner. Here a crucial role is played by the western line, which will become increasingly important with the growth in passenger and goods traffic. The EIB loan highlights the significance of this line for a Europe that is able to reconcile greater mobility with sustainability.”

Andreas Matthä, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG’s CEO, said: “I am very pleased that for many years now we have had the EIB as a reliable partner, cofinancing our largest and most important projects in Austria with long-term loans. These projects include core components of TEN projects such as the Lower Inn Valley line and the extension of the western line, as well as the renovation of St. Pölten station and the construction of the new main station in Vienna. We look forward to good cooperation in the future too.“