ÖBB versus Westbahn

 

 

 

Innovation and Battle on Austria’s Prime Rail Track, 10 May

by Urs Bloch

Direct competition on the train route between Vienna and Salzburg certainly adds colour and movement to Austria’s railway landscape.

In Austria, the Westbahn is a showcase for  opening up competition on the national rail network, which has, so far, been reserved for the prior monopolist. The company has been operating this route since December 2011, thus pulling the rug out from under the feet of the state-owned ÖBB’s most economically viable track.

[…] The creators of Westbahn, which also provides a bus service, are the construction tycoon Hans Peter Haselsteiner (Strabag), the investment company Augusta Holding, the French national railway company SNCF, as well as Stephan Wehinger, former boss of ÖBB Passenger Travel. There is no love lost between Wehinger and his former employer.

“We certainly have lost customers between Vienna and Salzburg” ÖBB Passenger Travel boss Silvia Kaupa admits without hesitation. At the same time, the company received a lot of publicity thanks to the emergence of the competition. Initial observation of the situation suggests that the market as a whole is growing, and so it is hoped that both companies could co-exist in the long run.

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