ÖBB and City of Vienna extend free train travel for Ukrainian refugees

The measure has been extended to the end of October. It includes travel on ÖBB trains and Wiener Linien services.

ÖBB and City of Vienna extend free train travel for Ukrainian refugees
Free train travel for Ukrainian refugees in Austria has been extended - but with different rules. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria’s national rail operator ÖBB has confirmed Ukrainian refugees can continue using public transport free of charge until the end of October.

Ukrainians must show a travel document as proof of status to use the transport network.

Additionally, Ukrainian refugees can continue using Wiener Linien services and the Verkehrsverbund Ostregion (VOR) public transport for free until October 31st.

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However, from November, only Ukrainian refugees arriving in Austria for the first time will be able to travel for free.

The announcement was made on Tuesday October 4th in Vienna after a consultation with the Ministry of Transport.

City Councillor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) said the decision to extend the offer on the Wiener Linien was “consistent with the nationwide decision of the ÖBB”, reports Die Presse.

Stadt Wien made the announcement on Twitter and added: “At the same time, we support the efforts of the refugee coordinator for an Austria-wide and long-term solution to travel costs for people in need. Currently, only costs for certain journeys can be reimbursed.” 

According to Die Presse, ÖBB has issued around 390,000 free tickets to Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war in February.

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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.