‘We’re under massive pressure’: Austria’s train operator ÖBB to increase prices

The head of Austria's train company ÖBB warned on Monday that prices would increase due to rising energy costs.

An ÖBB train in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Image: Pixlr
Illustration photo. Image: Pixlr.

Austria’s ÖBB boss Andreas Matthä is preparing Austrian train users and consumers for an increase in prices in 2023.

“We will increase prices in passenger transport very moderately at the end of the year”, he warned.

Matthä didn’t say by how much prices would rise but stated it would be “well below the rate of inflation”. Currently, Austria’s inflation rate is at around 9 percent.

The ÖBB chef told Austrian media that railways are confronted with massive electricity price increases and that the company would need to pass on part of these costs to the consumers. “We are under massive pressure”, he said.

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The railway company produces much of the energy it needs but also buys around half of its energy consumption through long-term contracts, Matthä explains.

“This year, we do not have a giant leap in prices, but next year the developments will become increasingly noticeable,” the ÖBB CEO told the Kleine Zeitung.

One billion euros will be invested in the railway’s power plants by 2030. “In Obervellach, we are in a modernisation run; in Pinzgau, a pumped storage power plant is under construction,” Matthä said.

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On the planned start of the Koralm railway in December 2025, he said he would be “disappointed beyond measure” if it could not go into operation at the end of 2025.

“We keep having delivery problems with different parts at many construction sites,” he added.

Regarding the consequences of the corona pandemic, Matthä said that there were still significant shortfalls in passenger numbers this year.

“We are still ten percent below the 2019 level in local traffic. In long-distance traffic, we are 15 percent above the 2019 level,” he said.

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New routes and prices: How train services in Austria will change from December

Those taking the train with Austria's main operator ÖBB will have more travel options as the company focuses on tourist destinations. However, prices will also change.

New routes and prices: How train services in Austria will change from December

Austria’s train transport company ÖBB has announced a new timetable from December 11th 2022, focusing on tourist destinations and more connections. However, prices will generally increase – though international trips could become cheaper.

“More comfortable, further, more often – this summarises what we offer our customers in the new timetable”, said the company’s CEO Andreas Matthä in a press statement.

“In local and long-distance transport, new modern trains ensure even more comfortable travel; additional connections create a higher frequency and improve the offering for both commuters and tourists. And finally, we are able to further strengthen the European night train network by expanding night travel”, he added.

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Price changes

With the new timetable comes a general price increase, according to public broadcaster ORF. On average, tickets in the second class will become 3.9 percent more expensive, though the earlier you book, the cheaper the journey, ORF said. Price increases due to rising energy costs.

ÖBB said that changes in taxes would allow for tickets to become cheaper, however, at least international tickets. According to the company, starting January 1st 2023, the VAT for international tickets is not charged for the Austrian part of the route, allowing for lower prices.

‘Attractive destinations in Austria and Europe’

The train operator said it is consistently expanding its night train networks to connect Europe in a “climate-friendly” way.

“From the timetable change, the Nightjet will take you from Vienna and Munich to the Italian Riviera. In addition, NJ 233 and NJ 40295 will be extended from Milan and will travel daily to Genoa in the future.”, the company stated.

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New connections in the Nightjet night trains include Stuttgart and Baden-Württemberg.

Popular destinations will be expanded, and the EuroNight Vienna – Graz – Split will bring holiday travellers to the Croatian Adriatic coast from May to October three times a week.

ÖBB said it also focuses on tourist connection in its daytime traffic. For example, the direct IC connection from Vienna to Salzkammergut to Bad Ischl, Hallstatt and Stainach-Irdning will be offered daily.

On weekends, there will be a new direct train connection Vienna – Schladming – Bischofshofen, which leads over the Gesäuse. Some Austrian state capitals will also be even better connected with new early and late connections at the weekend.

The Vienna – Prague route going through Gmünd and South Bohemia will also be expanded to daily trips. On weekends, the connection will be offered twice a day.

Local and long-distance connections

ÖBB said it would “comprehensively” expand offers nationally. Two other train pairs between Vienna and Villach will allow for an hourly interval from and to Carinthian during rush hours.

An additional IC train pair will be added with the timetable change on the Graz- Linz route. The new timetable also offers a new daily evening connection from Salzburg to Graz.

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The operator added: “Travelers can also expect new morning and evening connections on the western route. For example, a new RJ connection brings culture lovers back to Linz from Vienna at 00:28 a.m. after visiting the concert or theatre.

“Extensions of RJ connections make Salzburg and Tyrol even more accessible from Upper Austria in the morning or take air travellers from Salzburg to Vienna Airport even earlier in the morning.”

ÖBB said it was “meeting a historically high number of passengers with historically high investments in new and modern trains”. The company announced a total of around € 4.1bn into its wagons, looking to increase capacity in long-distance transport by 30 percent by 2030.