Westbahn trains to feature smoker lounges

The head of a railway company which plans to challenge Federal Railways (ÖBB) from December has said that his firm’s trains will have facilities for smokers.Stefan Wehinger, chief of Westbahn which will operate 13 times a day between Vienna and Salzburg, said today (Fri) that wagons will be equipped with “smoker cabins.”Speaking to the Kurier newspaper, the businessman also revealed that he was in talks with representatives of Societe nationale des chemins de fer francais (SNCF), France’s national railway company, about a cooperation.”The French want a 26 per cent interest (in Westbahn) via a capital increase, and we want to give (these 26 per cent) away,” the former ÖBB board member said.Westbahn was founded by Hans Peter Haselsteiner, the chairman of leading construction company Strabag SE.Westbahn plans to cover the 312-kilometre distance between Vienna and Salzburg in two hours and 57 minutes. The route is the only connection debt-ridden ÖBB is making a profit with.Meanwhile, the infrastructure ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic signed a letter of intent for constructing a 700-kilometre railway link which will lead from Polish capital Warsaw to Katowice through the Czech Republic to Austrian capital Vienna.A Spanish firm will deliver results of its feasibility study on the project by the end of 2012, according to a report by the Warsaw Voice newspaper.