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This new European high-speed rail network will take you from Vienna to Berlin in four hours

Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria have agreed to work together to upgrade train routes and create high speed lines to improve connections between Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

A new night-train connectionion from Vienna to Brussels started in January 2020 (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP). 
A new night-train connectionion from Vienna to Brussels started in January 2020 (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP). to Berli

Travel times between the capital cities of Germany passenger services between the capital cities of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria could be slashed in the next 15 years, if plans announced at German Rail Summit earlier this week come to fruition.

German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer spoke about plans agreed by the three countries, called the Via Vindobona Treaty for a combination of upgraded routes and sections of new high speed line.

This could allow passengers to travel from Berlin to Vienna in around five hours with limited stops, while express services could even create journey times of four hours. 

The fastest journey time between the two cities is currently around eight hours and 15 minutes. The Berlin to Prague journey time would be cut to two hours 30 minutes and Dresden to Prague to around one hour, according to Railway Gazette international. 

The news comes following plans to revive night trains across Europe, including a sleeper service from Vienna to Paris by the end of 2021.

READ MORE: Map-a return to night trains across Europe takes a step closer 

At the heart of the scheme is a 30km tunnel under the Erzgebirge on the German-Czech border, for which a joint declaration was signed in March 2020. 

This is expected to be completed by the mid-2030s, as part of a 123km high-performance railway between Dresden and Prague, cutting the distance by around 56 km.

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Czech Transport Minister Karel Havlíček said he was keen to introduce two-hourly services to the neighbouring capitals, increasing to an hourly service in the longer term.

The website Railtech reported in 2019 the Czech rail infrastructure manager SŽDC planned to construct high-speed railways in the country, allowing passenger trains to run at a speed of 320kph, more than twice as fast as is currently possible. 

Future high speed lines in Czechia
Future high speed lines are planned throughout the Czech Republic which will also speed up connections to Austria and Germany.

Austrian Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler promised a start would be made next year on a one billion euro upgrade of the 66 km Nordbahn between Wien and the Czech border at Bernhardsthal.

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VIENNA

What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

Vienna is once again at the top of the global liveability index, but what does it mean and where can Austria's capital still improve?

What makes Vienna the 'most liveable city' and where can it improve?

The Austrian capital city of Vienna made a comeback as the world’s most liveable city after it tumbled down to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Now, Vienna tops a ranking dominated by Western European cities, and it scores highly in nearly all criteria, including stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Vienna returns to top ranking as world’s ‘most liveable city

What does each of these points mean and in which areas is the city still not the best?

The liveability score is reached through category weights, each divided into subcategories. The indicators are then scored based on either judgement of “in-house expert geography analysts and a field correspondent based in each city” for qualitative variables.

In the case of quantitative variables, the rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a location using external data, such as information from the World Bank or Transparency International, for example.

Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, in Vienna (Copyright: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)

Stability

Vienna got a 100 percent score in this category, which is measured based on several indicators. The EIU rating evaluated the prevalence of petty crime and of violent crime. It also looked into the threat of terrorism, military conflict, and civil unrest threats.

Healthcare

This was another category Austria’s capital aced – and an improvement from the pandemic years, when it lost points on healthcare.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

The rating considers the availability and quality of both private and public healthcare. It also looks into the availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators provided by the World Bank.

Education

Vienna got a total of 100 points for this category, which considered the availability and quality of private education and looked into World Bank data on public education indicators.

Infrastructure

Another 100 percent for Austria’s capital which was found to have a good quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision and telecommunications. The ranking also considered the availability of good-quality housing.

Theater in Vienna (© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

Culture & Environment

This was the only category where Vienna did not get 100 points. Instead, it scored 96.3, which was still higher than many of the top ten cities. Vancouver, Canada, was the only city at the top of the ranking that got a 100. Melbourne and Amsterdam also fared slightly better than Vienna.

READ ALSO: ​​The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

The category looks into humidity and temperature rating, the discomfort of climate for travellers, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, food and drink, and consumer goods and services.

Among all of these indicators, only the humidity/temperature rating, which is adapted from average weather conditions, didn’t receive the highest grade.

What can Vienna do to get better?

Even in the indicators where the Austrian capital did well, there are always things to improve, especially concerning the risks to the quality of living that rising inflation and the Ukrainian war bring.

When it comes to weather, though the city cannot control when it rains or shines, there are many things it can do to improve living conditions on those scorching summer days or freezing winter evenings.

READ ALSO: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

As summer and heatwaves arrive, it is already looking to bring more green areas and avoid “heat islands” building up in the city centre. It also has built fog showers, drinking fountains and increased offers of “cool” areas where people can escape the extreme heat.

Also, looking to reduce the use of cars and make life better for residents, Vienna is betting on the “15-minute city” concept. This means that Austria’s capital is trying to make the essential everyday routes and destinations, including metro stations, reachable by a 15-minute walk.

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