‘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.

READ ALSO: The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

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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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.