Reader question: Will Austrian trains soon require seat reservations?

Austria's national rail operator ÖBB is reportedly considering compulsory seat reservations as demand for train travel increases.

Reader question: Will Austrian trains soon require seat reservations?
An Austrian ÖBB train speeds through the country. (© ÖBB / Harald Eisenberger)

As train travel across Austria becomes more popular, Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) now recommends booking a seat in advance and has confirmed there is a possibility of compulsory reservations in the near future.

There is currently high demand for long-distance routes during busy travel dates, like public and school holidays, and there have been complaints about overcrowded trains, including reports of passengers being removed on busy routes.

A decision is now expected to be made in the coming weeks about whether to introduce compulsory seat reservation following an analysis of international train travel models and consultations with ÖBB passengers.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train

Speaking to the Kurier, an ÖBB spokesman said: “We are looking at all the options.”

Other possibilities on the table include moving short-haul travellers to local trains to free up seats on long-distance routes, as well as expanding real-time information about capacity. ÖBB also wants to provide more information about alternative trains with more capacity.

According to ORF, the number of rail passengers in Austria has increased this year due to higher fuel prices, the waning of the pandemic and the introduction of the Klimaticket annual pass that offers subsidised rates for train travel.

READ MORE: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available

In recent weeks, capacity on long-distance routes has even been above pre-pandemic levels, especially on cross-border routes.

ÖBB has already confirmed there will be up to 10,000 additional seats available on busy holidays like Ascension Day, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.

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For members


Train strike: What are your rights in Austria if your trip is cancelled or delayed?

Rail workers at Austria's ÖBB went on strike Monday after salary negotiations ended with no deal. Here's what you need to know about your rights if you're affected.

Train strike: What are your rights in Austria if your trip is cancelled or delayed?

The Austria-wide strikes affect ÖBB trains but also regional transport (including the S-Bahn system that goes through Vienna) and some transport operated by Westbahn.

There may also be individual train cancellations on Tuesday, November 29th, as The Local reported. Information on this can be found in the ÖBB SCOTTY.

The warning strike was called after trade unions and companies were not able to agree on salary increases amid rising inflation in Austria. Vida, the trade union representing the workers, has asked for a wage increase of €400 – an average increase of around 12 percent. In response, Austria’s Chamber of Commerce offered a rise of 8 percent.

READ ALSO: Strikes in Austria: How will transport and services be affected

What happens to tickets I’ve already bought?

Sparschiene and other ÖBB tickets booked for travel during the strike are valid until December 5th 2022, or can be cancelled, refunded or rebooked, ÖBB said. 

You can do so at all ÖBB travel centres or ticket counters and through the customer service hotline on 05-1717 9.

In the case of Westbahn tickets, the company is asking customers to cancel them – this can also be done retroactively. 

What if I am stranded due to the strike?

If you are stranded due to the strike, the costs for adequate hotel accommodation and taxi costs to the hotel must be covered by ÖBB. 

The maximum amount for local and regional transport is €80 per person for an overnight stay in a hotel and €50 per person for a taxi ride, according to the Agency for Passenger Rights (APF).

The agency also recommends people ask the railway company for confirmation of the delay or cancelled ticket.

There would be no compensation claims if you were informed about the delay or cancellation before you bought your ticket. There is also no entitlement to compensation for delays in “specific individual cases” to people who hold an annual travel pass.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

In the event of disputes, the AFP can provide assistance. The organisation currency recommends postponing non-essential travel to a later date and adjusting your ticket validity. 

ÖBB said: “We will look at and evaluate each complaint individually. However, it must be considered that the strike was announced in advance.”

The company also said that it does not offer any replacement services. However, the CAT train in Vienna, which connects the city centre to the international airport, has a replacement making Wien-Mitte – Airport journey.