Austria's ÖBB launches training offensive to attract drivers

The Local Austria
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Austria's ÖBB launches training offensive to attract drivers
Austrian rail workers at a station in Vienna. Photo: Simon Tartarotti on Unsplash

As staff shortages loom on Austria's national rail network, ÖBB is launching a brand new training scheme at a campus near Vienna.


Approximately 1,500 ÖBB train drivers will retire in the upcoming years, prompting the federal railway to launch a comprehensive training initiative.

The aim is to replace the retiring train drivers and recruit an additional 500 drivers.

According to a statement by ÖBB, the training will take place at the Bildungscampus St. Pölten - around 35 minutes by train from Vienna - where 400 men and women undergo training as train drivers each year in a new course every two weeks.

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One of the highlights of the one-year training program, sponsored by ÖBB, is using a unique simulation device named LISA. Inside the simulator, trainees must master various situations as if they were on an actual journey. The simulator's hydraulic movements provide a realistic experience, helping future train drivers familiarise themselves with different scenarios.

Harald Parzer, the head of ÖBB's training facility, praised the rapid progress made by the trainees: "In the simulator, everything can be learned and practised to the point of becoming second nature. Mistakes can be made without any consequences." After just six weeks of training, the trainees get their first hands-on experience on a real railcar under supervision.

The theory courses in St. Pölten, completed over several weeks, cover the fundamentals of train driving. According to Parzer, the training instils enthusiasm among the trainees, leading many to remain passionate about the profession until retirement.

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The training program includes accommodation at the newly constructed campus in St. Pölten. But there are some prerequisites: applicants must be at least 19 years old and demonstrate respect for the responsibilities that come with operating locomotives with up to 10,000 hp, pulling trains weighing dozens of tonnes, and often carrying hundreds of passengers.


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