ÖBB ticket prices could climb

Federal Railways (ÖBB) tickets could be more expensive later this year.

ÖBB CEO Christian Kern refused to rule out price hikes yesterday (Thurs). Kern pointed out that ÖBB did not up passenger tickets in the past four years. “We are not a charity organisation,” he said.

Kern underlined that a further improvement of services was his utmost priority. He made aware of the recent agreement with DO&CO. The airline catering specialist partnered up with the state-funded railway organisation regarding onboard food offers.

DO&CO is one of the world’s most successful aviation and event caterers. The company, which is headed by Attila Dogudan is listed on the stock exchanges of Vienna (WBAG) and Istanbul (ISE). Dogudan said he hoped to win 46 million new customers by cooperating with ÖBB.

ÖBB, which has debts of around 17 billion Euros, counted around 209 million passengers in 2011, three million more than in 2010. Kern said 96.6 per cent of ÖBB passenger trains ran on time or were behind schedule by less than five minutes in 2011. He said the firm was doing significantly better than Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) in this concern.

Kern said the firm’s pre-tax loss dropped from almost 330 million Euros in 2010 to 27.9 million Euros in 2011. The former Verbund AG manager – whose actions are under close scrutiny by the People’s Party (ÖVP) due to allegedly strong ties with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) – said his target was to get ÖBB in the black in 2013.

ÖBB had a turnover of 2.95 billion Euros in 2009. The Vienna-based company achieved a turnover of 3.16 billion Euros in 2010 and 3.33 billion Euros in 2011. ÖBB had around 40,900 employees and a few hundred trainees in 2011. The firm was ordered by the SPÖ-ÖVP government to freeze its workforce level in the coming years to help the state in slashing public debts.

Kern admitted difficulties regarding cargo operations in Southeast Europe yesterday. He said the financial and economic crisis led to a decline in orders of Rail Cargo Austria (RCA) in the first three months of 2012.

RCA is part of the ÖBB Holding. The cargo transportation firm wants to cooperate more closely with Hungarian railway company MAV in the coming years to increase its activity in Eastern Europe (EE) RCA boss Erik Regter announced RCA and MAV should partner up regarding the usage of cargo terminals in Hungary. Regter also said RCA would soon offer more connections between Trieste, Italy, and the German cities of Munich and Ulm.

Meanwhile, ÖBB’s private competitor Westbahn announced it would increase the number of coach connections from Vienna to Budapest, Hungary, and Prague, Czech Republic. Westbahn – which offers daily passenger train services between Vienna and Salzburg – said on Wednesday said its road travelling affiliate Westbus would soon also operate more often between Vienna and Zagreb, Croatia, and Slovenian capital Bratislava.