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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
A road in Zillertl, Austria (Photo by Tobias Reich on Unsplash)

Austria's ÖBB trains are too modern for platforms, 57 arrests after climate protests, and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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Austria's ÖBB trains are too modern for platforms

The transition to new train sets on the Tauernbahn line is resulting in the discontinuation of services to Bad Gastein and Dorfgastein (both in Pongau, Salzburg), broadcaster ORF reported. Specifically, four daily trains will be cancelled due to incompatible platforms with the new trains.

Starting from the timetable change in December, ÖBB will introduce the new ICE 4 trains from Deutsche Bahn on the Tauern route. While this promises enhanced comfort for passengers, it also means fewer trains stopping at Bad Gastein and Dorfgastein due to the outdated platforms in the Gastein Valley.

The platforms in these locations are too low for the ultra-modern railcars from Germany, making boarding and alighting unsafe. The trains will only make a stop at Bad Hofgastein. ÖBB spokesperson Klaus Baumgartner explained, "We've constructed a temporary structure and elevated the platform edge there. However, this wasn't feasible for economic reasons at the other two stations. By 2025, all stations are expected to be upgraded to accommodate the ICE 4 trains."

ÖBB has pledged a complete renovation of all train stations in the Gastein Valley by 2025. Until then, passengers on the ICE trains will have to switch to road transportation from Bad Hofgastein. Baumgartner added, "The train will halt in Bad Hofgastein, and passengers will transfer to the rail replacement service, which may result in slight delays."

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Austria’s new ‘ultramodern’ night trains

What are the new flights to and from Austrian airports in 2024?

With Austria’s airports announcing their flight schedules for the coming year, travellers can reach several new locations.

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Austria debates end of Matura

During its party conference over the weekend, the Vienna SPÖ stirred considerable attention, both politically and among experts, with its proposal to eliminate the Matura and introduce a comprehensive school system without traditional grading. 

The Matura, officially called Reifeprufung, is a prerequisite for higher education such as university, academy, technical university and college.

This move drew strong reactions from the ÖVP and FPÖ, with Education Minister Martin Polaschek criticising the "utopian ideas of left-leaning SPÖ visionaries."

SPÖ leader Andreas Babler aims for a cautious approach concerning the sensitive issue raised by the Vienna regional group. Babler emphasised, "The main focus remains on providing warm meals for students and ensuring an adequate number of well-trained teachers." However, he also welcomes "any initiative that aims to alleviate school-related stress and unlock students' potential."

READ ALSO: Reader question: Is home schooling legal in Austria?

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57 arrests after climate protests

Early Monday morning, climate policy protests brought traffic in and around Vienna to a standstill, causing widespread disruptions. Law enforcement arrested a total of 57 activists in Vienna and Lower Austria, with reports of aggressive behaviour from drivers. 

Activists strategically blocked key points starting at 7:45 a.m., resulting in significant traffic congestion and long delays. The southern highway (A2) was among the affected areas at the Vösendorf junction (Mödling district). Video evidence captured drivers displaying aggressive reactions.

The activist group "Last Generation Austria" announced on X, formerly Twitter: "We confronted traffic and people's frustration to highlight the escalating climate crisis." Over 70 individuals reportedly participated in the protests. Activists documented what they described as "intense aggression" toward them, sharing online videos showing participants being physically assaulted, pushed, dragged, and drenched with water.

"While we understand drivers' frustrations, violence is not the solution. How will they respond when roads are submerged, or clean water becomes scarce?" the statement said.


READ ALSO: Who are the climate protesters disrupting traffic in Vienna – and why?

New vignettes to go on sale

The new vignette, which comes in a sunny yellow instead of 2023’s purple, will go on sale on Wednesday, November 22nd.

The price remains unchanged from last year, with an annual vignette costing €96.40 for a car or €38.50 for a motorcycle.

The new 2024 vignettes can be purchased at over 6,000 locations across Austria, including gas stations, toll booths, tobacconists, ÖAMTC, ARBÖ and ADAC locations.

READ MORE: New vignettes needed for driving on Austria’s autobahns to go on sale

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