Austria was one of only three countries in the EU to have invested more in expanding rail transport than in road infrastructure over the past thirty years. This is evident from a German study commissioned by Greenpeace. However, the environmental organization mainly finds critical words for Austria and calls for the reactivation of routes and train stations that have been closed since 1995 because they were unprofitable.
While the road network across Europe grew by more than 30,000 kilometers between 1995 and 2018, the rail network shrank by more than 15,000 kilometers in the same period, Greenpeace has calculated.
Commissioned by Greenpeace, the Wuppertal Institute and the T3 Transportation Think Tank investigated how public transport infrastructure in the EU-27, Great Britain, Norway and Switzerland has changed over the past thirty years. The report shows that since 1995, the countries surveyed have invested almost two-thirds more in road expansion and renovation (EUR 1.5 trillion) than in rail transport expansion (EUR 931 billion).
655 kilometers of railway line shut down
In the years 2018 to 2021, this gap has closed somewhat: the thirty European countries invested a third more in expanding road transport than in expanding rail. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom have invested more in rail transport than in road transport in the past four years.
Not good enough, says Greenpeace: In Austria, 655 kilometers of railway lines and 230 stations have been closed in almost three decades. “Now the state governments are being challenged: especially in Lower Austria, which is at the bottom, disused regional railway lines need to be reactivated,” says Marc Dengler of Greenpeace Austria.
ÖBB rejects criticism
The ÖBB does not want to accept this criticism: ÖBB-Infrastructure AG will invest approximately 1.8 billion euros in the years 2023 to 2028 in modernizing the regional railways and making them more attractive, according to a statement. There is a legal obligation to use the tax resources made available sparingly and economically. Therefore, not all routes could be maintained and modernized. If corresponding demand is not expected, ÖBB may not invest in accordance with the economic criteria prescribed by the Ministry of Transport.
The ÖBB states that reopening discontinued regional train connections would entail enormous costs and provide little benefit. New regional connections will be created where this makes sense in terms of transport policy and in the interests of taxpayers, for example on the new Koralmbahn or, as is already the case, on the new western route from Tullnerfeld.
Gewessler: “More money for rail than for roads”
“The railway is the future of climate-friendly transport – that is why we are currently investing record amounts in the construction and modernization of railway lines,” emphasized Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens). The research also confirms this: Austria is among the top European countries when it comes to investments in rail. Moreover, “we have significantly more money for rail than for roads.” “We have managed to reverse the trend when it comes to rail expansion. And that is good,” said the minister.
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.