OBB to invest €19bn in “climate-friendly” rail over next six years

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Austrian rail operator ÖBB is set to invest €19 billion in rail infrastructure over the next six years as part of a new 2023-2028 framework plan, which aims to encourage more people to switch to climate-friendly rail transportation.

The investment will be ÖBB’s “largest railway infrastructure package of all time,” and will cover new barrier-free stations, the development of loading points to encourage greater modal shift from road to rail for freight, new park and ride and bike and ride services, track electrification, and investments in renewable energy and new electric trains.

“With the framework plan 2023-2028, we can further advance essential aspects of the current government program in the railway sector,” said Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler. “Together with the planned expansion of services and the success of the climate ticket, we are making an important contribution to achieving climate neutrality.”

ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä, added, “Despite the difficult environment, ÖBB has pressed ahead with the ongoing railway expansion at all levels according to plan. This makes us a stable partner and reliable mobility provider for the transport transition of tomorrow, even in times of crisis. Thanks are due to the Federal Government, which, despite high energy prices, bottlenecks in supply chains, general inflation, high inflation, and geopolitical crises, has succeeded in financially securing the implementation of the already ambitious construction program.”

Parallel to the framework plan, ÖBB plans to invest around €1bn in renewable energies by 2030. This will generate an additional 280 GWh from ÖBB’s own hydropower plants as well as photovoltaic and wind power plants.

In addition to energy generation from hydropower and wind power, environmentally friendly solar power is becoming increasingly important. In total, ÖBB currently operates 45 photovoltaic systems on operating facilities and open spaces throughout Austria. This currently produces around 10,000 MWh of green electricity.

Further plants are planned throughout Austria to increase the share of self-generation from renewable energies. In addition, ÖBB is also building innovative pilot projects on the existing transport infrastructure, such as photovoltaic modules as components for bicycle shelters or platform roofs. ÖBB is thus a clear pioneer in the realization of electricity generation from solar energy.

In terms of its train fleet, ÖBB is investing around €4.1bn to increase seat capacity by 30% by 2030. New Railjets and Nightjets are currently in production. At the end of summer 2023, the first Nightjets to Italy will be in operation. In addition, all Railjets from the existing fleet will undergo an upgrade program in terms of design, interior and technology from spring 2024.

A further 21 sets of the Cityjet double-decker are to be ordered for local transport – this means a total of 62 new trains for the eastern region. The first Cityjet Desiro ML trains for Vorarlberg will already be used in December for the timetable change, and the first new Cityjets will go on track in Tyrol from August 2023.

At ÖBB, climate-fit transport is in the foreground. On the one hand, with a major electrification offensive on various railway lines and the procurement of new vehicles with electric drive. In spring 2023, the current tender for a framework agreement for up to 120 battery-powered multiple units is to be completed. The new vehicles will be ÖBB's first trains to be able to operate in both the electrified and non-electrified sectors, eliminating fossil fuels.