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Taking Austria to the next level

Posted: 28 October 2009 | Doris Bures, Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology, Austria | No comments yet

There are only a few countries in the European Union having a comparably high standard of public transport. 5.5 million rail or bus trips are recorded daily in Austria. Each Austrian travels 2,800km by public transport per year – this is an achievement that is worth sharing, but which we want to increase further.

There are only a few countries in the European Union having a comparably high standard of public transport. 5.5 million rail or bus trips are recorded daily in Austria. Each Austrian travels 2,800km by public transport per year - this is an achievement that is worth sharing, but which we want to increase further.

There are only a few countries in the European Union having a comparably high standard of public transport. 5.5 million rail or bus trips are recorded daily in Austria. Each Austrian travels 2,800km by public transport per year – this is an achievement that is worth sharing, but which we want to increase further.

However, one precondition for this is a dense network of rail and bus connections, tramways and – in Vienna – underground.

Another precondition is a clear strategy for transport policy. The main principles for the organisation of the transport system are – except for some details – shared by all stakeholders: we want a transport system which has to be efficient and safe, environmentally friendly and affordable.

A direct consequence of this broad consensus would be: more public transport. Thanks to the close cooperation between federal, local and communal governments and the cooperation between transportation companies, Austria is entirely served by local public networks.

Thanks to generous public support, ticket prices can be kept low and frequencies high in urban and regional public transport. As a consequence, we can offer free tickets for pupils and apprentices, extraordinary cheap tickets for commuters, discounts for students, families, the elderly and handicapped. The financial contribution of my Ministry for the creation of these services amounts to €800 million.

But with this, the engagement of my Ministry is yet not exhausted. We want to bring Austria’s rail network to the newest level. Therefore, we have started the biggest enlargement programme for the rail infrastructure of the last decades. In the coming years, on average €2.3 billion will be invested each year and in the years 2009 to 2014, a total of €13.8 billion will be allocated for the rehabilitation and new construction of railroads. 360km of new railroad will be built, of which 190km are tunnels. 190km of railroads will be upgraded, for instance from single to double track or from double track to four tracks. 100 railway stations will be completely renovated, i.e. the project of the new Central Station Vienna. Small stations will also be renovated, with increased accessibility, equipped with new information systems and made more customer friendly and modern. At the same time, the existing rail network will be rehabilitated and bottlenecks removed.

In this connection I would like to point out the obvious economic importance of these investments. The rehabilitation programme for the rail infrastructure will create 35,000 jobs. The overall positive economical effects however go far beyond, as transport infrastructure is a major factor for the country to create future growth and the upgrading of whole regions.

By strategically upgrading the main corridors, we will create faster interconnections within Austria and between Austria and other European regions. At the same time, investment is concentrated around major cities. By means of this we can place considerably more trains on the rail to avoid existing conflicts between local and international trains as well as passenger and freight trains.

All this has immediate positive effects for the rail users. We want to facilitate the choice between car or train as much as possible. And I surely don’t have to mention which choice I would prefer…

This also includes investments in intelligent transport systems (ITS). In my Ministry, the competences for transport, innovation and technology are concentrated. And it is exactly for the modernisation of the transport infrastructure that this combination proves to be so useful, because the development and use of ITS is given to one hand. By combining infrastructure and technology policy, the mobility of the future will be created.

We can make a better use of the given capacity, i.e. less congestion, smoother flowing traffic, shorter transportation times, avoiding danger zones and increasing road traffic safety. Public transport gets more attractive, as new technologies facilitate intermodality, like sophisticated route planning, electronic ticketing or integrated intermodal information.

In this respect, my Ministry sees its responsibility not only in directly promoting research work and implementation of innovative solutions, but also in supporting infrastructure managers in cities and communities by expertise and advice. At the same time we take part in big European projects. The Austrian Transport Ministry actively participates in strategic European reference projects and cooperates with the ITS action plan of the European Union.

In connection with this, I may also point out that ITS World, the biggest international trade fair and conference for ITS, will take place in Austria in 2012.

In the future, the need for mobility will most probably increase. I see the purpose for sustainable transport policy as making the transport system as efficient, safe, reliable and as environmentally friendly as possible.

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