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04. 10. 12. - 12:34

Russian trains set to head into Austria

Austria is considering an ambitious plan to fit hundreds of kilometres of train track with an extra rail that will allow them to transport Russian broad gauge trains.

At the moment train traffic in Austria runs on standard gauge meaning that Russian trains and carriages with wider wheels have to stop at the border.

As a result very little freight traffic is moved by train compared to road because of the need to unload it from Russian rolling stock and to reload it onto European rolling stock. A study said that currently only 5 per cent of the goods being transported between Asia and Europe are moved by train.

But this could all change if the Russian broad gauge track is introduced in Burgenland according to plans by transport Minister Doris Bures (SPÖ).

If approved it would mean that Austrian goods could be transported by train all the way from Austria through to China via Russia.

Under the new project an estimated 400 km of broad gauge railway would be made from eastern Slovakia through to Austria although the exact route that it would take through Austria is currently still being discussed.

The transport minister has hinted that it would head from Vienna to lower Austria and Burgenland allowing a direct connection to the 10,000 km long rail corridor from China over Russian to Europe.

Bures said the talks were currently being carried out with Russia, the Ukraine and Slovakia and also with the three regional governments involved. She said that a study on the effectiveness of the plan was currently being carried out.

Burgenland's regional governor Hans Niessl (SPÖ) said that in principle he was behind the project – although a market study was definitely desirable first to see whether the project really worked.

He added that the final decision was still likely to be a while away.

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