December 2015 sees major alterations to rail services in Austria. This is the second year in succession where the spotlight of change has been on Vienna.
It was always intended that the inauguration of the city’s new Hauptbahnhof would be a two-stage affair. Vienna’s glitzy new main station opened in late 2014. One year on, and improvements to the city’s rail infrastructure mean that many more trains approaching Vienna from the west can now be routed into the new Hauptbahnhof. The big change comes on Sunday 13 December, from which date many mainline trains which presently terminate at Wien Westbahnhof will run right through to Hauptbahnhof.
With this second phase of the Hauptbahnhof project, the main station will become the principal connecting point for many more long-distance journeys requiring a change of train in the Austrian capital. And Westbahnhof will lose some of its erstwhile status.
The December 2015 issue of the European Rail Timetable will include the new timetables for the Vienna region. Some of the highlights include:
- Faster journeys from Salzburg to Vienna. The small number of trains that presently run through to Hauptbahnhof (three night trains and half a dozen Railjets each day) are slowish. None of the Railjet trains offer a journey time of less than three hours. From 13 December, hourly Railjets will speed from Salzburg Hbf to Vienna Hbf in just 2 hrs 22 mins.
- More long-distance train services to Vienna Airport station. A limited number of ICE trains started serving Vienna Airport last December. Since then, there have been eight direct trains each day from the airport to Linz and beyond. The frequency on this route increases to twice-hourly from 13 December 2015. There will no longer be ICEs on this route; the new high-frequency service will be operated by Railjets and ÖBB Intercity trains.
- Many more cities in Austria will benefit from a direct rail link with Vienna Airport. They include Bregenz, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Graz which will all, for the first time, have trains direct to the airport.
- With Vienna Westbahnhof losing its long-distance trains, capacity is freed up for more local and regional services. Services on the Westbahnhof to Sankt Pölten axis will be recast, giving better frequencies and an improved stopping pattern – albeit with REX trains on that route generally taking a few minutes longer than at present.
- The concentration of longer distance trains at the new Vienna Hauptbahnhof will allow for better connections for many travellers making journeys through the Austrian capital. For example, the journey time from Salzburg to Bratislava is trimmed by 15 minutes from 13 December (from 3 hrs 51 mins to 3 hrs 36 mins).
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