Vienna to Get 2-Line S-Bahn Ring

Giving Vienna a circular rail service has been an idea that has been around for a while.

In the 2nd Vienna rail infrastructure package presented in 2019 and adopted in 2022, Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the City of Vienna agreed to carry out a feasibility study for a possible S-Bahn ring in Vienna.
The study was carried out by ÖBB in co-operation with independent transport planning experts over the past year and a half. The results were presented today by City Councillor Ulli Sima, NEOS party leader Bettina Emmerling, SPÖ party leader Josef Taucher and ÖBB Infra board member Judith Engel.

The most important result of the study is that a 2-line S-Bahn ring consisting of the S45 and S80 is possible and makes sense in terms of transport. The concept envisages that the extended S45 and S80 will create a ring with 4 trains per hour and direction with transfers in Hütteldorf and Praterkai.
This requires an expansion of the infrastructure between Handelskai and Praterkai, which will enable the extension of the S45 to Praterkai, as well as the completion of other ongoing and planned railway construction projects in and around Vienna – such as making the connecting railway more attractive and double-tracking from Hütteldorf to Penzing, including the conversion of Hütteldorf and the new Baumgarten stop.

The estimated timeframe for delivering this project is completion by 2032.

Visualisation of the proposed 2-line S-Bahn ring in Vienna
Visualisation of the proposed 2-line S-Bahn ring in Vienna

The possibility of a continuous ring without changing trains, which was examined in various variants, proved to be disadvantageous for the S-Bahn system and public transport use as a whole. A key factor in favour of this would be that the Hütteldorf transport hub could no longer be served. In addition, such a concept would result in massively increased operating costs and a large number of additional infrastructure investments.

Cllr Ulli Sima said:

“As a model climate city, we are constantly working on expanding public, climate-friendly mobility in Vienna. The expansion of the U2xU5 underground line is currently underway and we have already launched several new tram lines during this legislative period. I am delighted that with this feasibility study we are now jointly setting the course for further strengthening the suburban railway in Vienna. I would like to take this opportunity to thank ÖBB for their excellent and constructive cooperation in the area of public transport expansion.

“With a strong suburban railway network, we are ensuring that this trend continues in the future. A 2-line S-Bahn ring could connect the outer districts and create new tangential connections. Transport hubs, for example in Hütteldorf and at Praterkai, would be strengthened and therefore also attractive for commuters.”

The extension of the S45 between Handelskai and Praterkai, including new stops at Reichsbrücke and Donaumarina, is currently being analysed as one of several modules in the Vienna area for possible inclusion in the 2040 target network. The 2040 target network is due to be published at the beginning of 2024. The 2nd rail infrastructure project is currently being implemented. Subsequently, there will be talks with the City of Vienna regarding a third Vienna rail infrastructure package, which will also include the measures for the S-Bahn ring.

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