BZÖ wants ÖBB privatisation

Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) boss Josef Bucher has suggested to privatise parts of indebted Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) to help the company to recover.The head of the opposition party said today (Thurs) the government should list some departments of the struggling firm, which is close to the state, on the stock market. Bucher claimed such a move would help ÖBB in getting financial support from international investors to realise new infrastructure projects.The BZÖ leader said he could imagine privatising ÖBB’s personnel and cargo transport departments. “ÖBB is a money sink,” Bucher claimed.The Federal Audit Office (RH) only recently criticised the amount of compensation payments made to former ÖBB bosses as well as other ways the firm invested money.Christian Kern, who took office as ÖBB head earlier this week, announced the firm would not engage in any further speculative trading in his term.ÖBB announced earlier this year it lost around 300 million Euros when it ended a controversial cooperation with Deutsche Bahn (DB) earlier than planned to avoid even higher damage.ÖBB’s operating profit had been 121 million Euros in 2009 after it had had 970 million Euros in losses in the previous year. The company came under fire when a recent report revealed that its staff currently retired with an average age of 52.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Traffic Minister Doris Bures promised to increase the age of retirement by one year annually from 2011.But Reinhold Lopatka, financial affairs state secretary of the SP֒s coalition partner the People’s Party’s (ÖVP), said this planned initiative was not enough to get ÖBB back on track.Bures reacted by announcing she would review all future projects of the company in her bid to cut costs and reduce losses.