• To upgrade the Southern Route (Südstrecke) between Vienna and Graz
  • The Semmering base tunnel, South Vienna freight terminal and Pottendorf Line are being financed on favourable terms

The successful "Modern West Route (Weststrecke)" model will now be applied in southern Austria: the existing Südstrecke will be extensively modernised by the year 2026. In order to finance the upgrading project on favourable terms, ÖBB and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a contract today for EUR 1.8bn. The total volume will be disbursed over the next three years in tranches of EUR 600m. 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 EIB is the bank of the European Union. It is owned by and represents the interests of the EU Member States. To this effect, it works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy. For example, it finances infrastructure projects throughout the whole of Europe. In passes on the long-term funding advantage it obtains from the European capital markets to its loan beneficiaries. As a result of this new financing agreement, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG is now included amongst the EIB's 15 largest non-sovereign exposures.

Chief Financial Officer of ÖBB-Holding AG Josef Halbmay remarked, "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."

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle added, "With this loan, the EIB is supporting the objective of sustainable transport in an important TEN corridor by promoting the shift from road to rail. This is fully consistent with the Bank's transport guidelines aimed at making railway transport more competitive and attractive for railway customers."

Project details

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.

ÖBB: Austria's largest mobility services provider

As a comprehensive mobility services provider, the ÖBB Group provides environmentally-friendly transport for 466 million passengers and 111.7 million tonnes of freight per year. 92% of the railway traction current is generated from renewable energies, with 90% from hydropower. In 2014, with its 96.7% punctuality rate, ÖBB ranked among the most punctual railways in Europe. Throughout the Group, 39 481 employees (plus 1 724 apprentices) working on the railway and buses ensure that around 1.3 million passengers per day reach their destinations safely. The strategic lead company of the group is ÖBB-Holding AG