Cluj-Napoca, pictured above, gets a direct daytime train from Vienna from December 2018 (photo © Abdelmoumen Taoutaou / dreamstime.com).
Vienna’s main rail hub is Wien Hauptbahnhof. It is one of Europe’s best connected stations. And Austria generally enjoys a fine range of international links – no surprise for a country in the heart of Europe and a national rail operator (ÖBB) which is well inclined to cooperate with its neighbours.
With new rail timetables starting across Europe on 9 December, there are plenty of improvements on journeys to, from and through Austria.
One welcome innovation is a second direct daily train from Vienna to Romania. The existing Dacia overnight train from Vienna to Bucharest continues pretty much in its current timings. But from next month there will be an additional mid-morning train from Vienna to Romania, leaving Wien Hauptbahnhof at 10.42 and running via Oradea (arr 19.44) to Cluj-Napoca (arr 22.25). The train will be called the Transilvania. The return journey will leave Cluj-Napoca at 07.40 each morning and will reach Vienna at 17.21.
It is extraordinary that during 2018, there have been no direct trains from Vienna to Berlin. That lacuna in the timetables is happily filled from 9 December, with the reinstatement of twice-daily direct trains between the two capitals.
Passengers heading to Berlin from Vienna will be able to choose between a fast daytime ICE train or a slower Nightjet service – the latter with a choice of seats, couchettes and sleepers.
The daytime ICE will be called the Berolina. It will leave Wien Hauptbahnhof at 10.15 each morning, travelling via Linz, Passau and Erfurt to reach Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 17.58. On Fridays the train will be extended to Rostock.
The southbound Berolina will leave Berlin Hbf at 10.05, taking 7 hrs 40 mins to reach the Austrian capital.
The night train will leave Vienna at 22.10 each evening, routing via the Czech Republic and western Poland. It will arrive at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder at 08.12, Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 09.16 and Berlin Charlottenburg at 09.36. The return run will leave Berlin Charlottenburg at 18.22 each evening.
These new train services could really boost travel between Austria and eastern Germany. The only existing year-round train between Austria and Germany’s eastern states is the EC218 Chiemsee which dawdles from Graz via Selzthal and Salzburg into southern Germany and then runs on via Frankfurt-am-Main to Erfurt in the German State of Thuringia. On some days, it terminates at Frankfurt-am-Main, but on four days each week (Mo, Tu, We & Th) it continues to Erfurt. This oddball service stays in the new timetables which start in December 2018.
The departure boards at Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof often show exotic destinations. There are direct trains to Bologna, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Moscow, Nice and Zagreb. And from 9 December, Innsbruck will have a direct Railjet service to Bratislava.
It’s made possible by a new ÖBB direct train from Zürich via Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna to the Slovak capital. RJX167 will leave Zürich at 12.40 and reach Bratislava hl st. at 21.51. The return run from Bratislava will depart at 06.10 each morning, reaching Innsbruck just before midday, then continuing over the Arlberg route to Switzerland where the train will terminate in Zürich at 15.20.
We believe this is the first time since Slovakian independence that there has been a direct rail link between Bratislava and either the Austrian Tyrol or Switzerland.
From 9 December, there are changes to the direct daytime train service from Vienna to the eastern Slovakian city of Košice. This train presently runs from the Austrian capital via Marchegg to Bratislava, making five intermediate stops on Austrian territory before crossing the Morava into Slovakia. That changes next month, as the train will run non-stop from Vienna to Bratislava, routing via Kittsee rather than Marchegg.
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.