Austrian Federal Railways (OEBB) will invest 460 million euros (506 million USD) into Styria’s rail network over 2020.
The infrastructure arm of OEBB will implement a number of different projects over the course of the year. In addition to maintaining the existing Styrian rail network, the focus will be on the new Südstrecke (southern route), which is part of the EU’s Baltic-Adriatic Corridor. The highlight will be breaking through the second tunnel tube of the Koralm Tunnel during the first half of 2020. Beyond that OEBB is continuing to upgrade its stations and its park & ride facilities. Lastly, OEBB will complete its new apprentice training facility in Knittelfeld.
The Austrian state of Styria currently has 750km of track, 123 stations and stops, as well as 8,481 car and 7,825 bicycle parking spots. Of the 460 million euros, roughly 370 million euros (407 million USD) will go towards new infrastructure and expansion works. Around 90 million euros (99 million USD) will be invested into park & ride facilities, noise protection measures and maintenance projects. Over the course of the 2018–2023 funding cycle Styria will see a total investment of 2.75 billion euros (3 billion USD).
The Südstrecke, connecting Vienna with Villach, near Austria’s borders with Slovenia and Italy, continues to be a focal project in Styria.
“The Südstrecke is one of the largest and most spectacular infrastructure projects in Austria, and one Styria will greatly benefit from: 200km of railway lines will be modernised, 170km newly built. Once the Koralm Railway is complete by the end of 2025 passengers will be able to travel between Graz and Klagenfurt in just 45 minutes, while freight will reach its destination in a more environmentally friendly, faster and inexpensive manner.”
On the Kärnten side the last remaining tunnel-boring machine (TBM) ‘Kora’ is working on the final kilometre to complete the second breakthrough. On the Styrian side, meanwhile, the interior fit-out is progressing full steam ahead; around 40 percent of the inner shell is already complete. The breakthrough of the second tunnel tube will mean that the 33km Koralm Tunnel will be fully dug.
Further construction lots will get under way between Graz and Weitendorf in spring and autumn. The 19km section consists of several sub-areas: they include expanding the rail network around Graz to four tracks, building new tracks between the A2 and Weitendorf, including a connection to the southern terminal (Terminal Süd – Cargo Center Graz). The first section of the four-track expansion between Graz Don Bosco and Puntigam will become operational in mid-2020. The construction period for the second section between Puntigam and Feldkirchen-Seiersberg is scheduled for 2021–2023.
The construction works on the new line will mark the start of works on the 3.2km sub-surface line. In the future trains will go underground here, south of the A2 crossing. They will travel below the B67, past the airport and will re-emerge at surface level again near Zettling. This design achieves the best-possible noise and environmental protection. This aspect should be completed at the same time as the overall Koralm Railway.
Construction works along all sections will continue full steam ahead on the Semmering Base Tunnel in 2020. There are currently 14 construction sections. During the first half of 2020 half of the tunnel will be dug. The Semmering Base Tunnel will cut journey times between Vienna and Graz by 30 minutes, and will make freight transport on the route more attractive. The tunnel is scheduled to be complete by 2027.
OEBB is also investing in its existing stations, modernising them and making them more accessible. One aspect at stations is also the construction and enlargement of park & ride facilities. These allow passengers to make rail travel part of their journey by car or bicycle.
In order to ensure that sufficient apprentices are being trained, a new training facility for around 200 apprentices has been under construction in Knittelfeld since mid-2019. The two-storey building will offer many teaching spaces and a large assembly hall with repair shops. The training site will become operational from September 2020 onwards, increasing the number of apprentices being trained in Knittelfeld by 50 percent.
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