Openings increase speeds and capacity
AUSTRIA: Services on the 60 km fast line between Wien Meidling and St Pölten began with the December 9 timetable change, cutting the Wien - St Pölten journey time by 15 min to 25 min, and reducing Wien - Salzburg journey times by 23 min.
The double-track route means there are now four tracks on most of the Westbahn corridor between Wien and Linz (RG 6.09 p60). The new alignment is designed for 250 km/h, although trains are currently limited to 230 km/h. Construction cost €2·8bn, funded from national, Austrian Federal Railways and EU (€40m) sources.
More than half the route is in eight tunnels. The 12·8 km Lainzer Tunnel will only be used by freight trains until 2014, when long-distance passenger trains will begin using it to reach Wien Hauptbahnhof (RG 10.07 p717). The first phase of the new station was partially opened for local services with the timetable change.
Meanwhile, the 41 km Unterinntal line has also opened, with 32 km of tunnel, providing a second double-track route between Kundl and Baumkirchen. This relieves a bottleneck on the Wörgl - Innsbruck route, where the east-west line is shared by north-south services in the Brenner corridor.