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ÖBB green locomotive, source: ÖBB

Green revolution on Austrian rails

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) is implementing environmentally friendly solutions to reduce CO2 emissions. The company develops the use of green traction energy, improves its infrastructure, invests in alternative mobilities. By 2050, ÖBB aims to become the CO2-neutral railway operator.

A year ago, at the beginning of July 2018, ÖBB has achieved a milestone in its energy-saving and climate protection policy. The company announced the switch to 100 per cent green traction energy. “Our traction current comes entirely from the hydroelectric power, sun and wind – this is the future and our contribution: 100 per cent green electricity! We are proud to expand further our position as the country’s leading climate protection company,” CEO of ÖBB Holding Andreas Matthä said to that occasion. After a year, the Austrian railway company continues its environmentally friendly policy in other ways.

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Vienna Central Station, source: ÖBB

Vienna Central Station, source: ÖBB.

Green train stations

On May ÖBB has switched the power supply of all its train stations, offices, workshops and container cranes to the green electricity. According to the estimations, this measure will allow reducing the CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tonnes per year. Besides this, ÖBB has already made some improvements at the country’s main train station, Wien Hauptbahnhof. Austrian rail infrastructure manager ÖBB-Infrastruktur, a part of ÖBB Holding, equipped the facility with geothermal and braking energy to heat the buildings. The station escalators and lifts use its own braking energy to heat the buildings. Only Vienna Central Station saves 4,200 tonnes of CO2 per year. To emphasize the importance of green energy for this station, ÖBB installed the company’s restyled green logo. Now, passengers travelling via Wien Hauptbahnhof are able to see three green letters ‘ÖBB’ instead of the ordinary red ones.

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CEO of ÖBB Andreas Matthä with bicycle, source: ÖBB

CEO of ÖBB Andreas Matthä with bicycle, source: ÖBB.

Alternative mobilities

The ÖBB’s other significant measure in reducing the emissions is the promotion and development of alternative mobilities. The company tries to make a train trip more comfortable and convenient for passengers, inter alia, by adding the various options. A train is a good option for travel in a combination with a bicycle or electric vehicle. Therefore, the company extends the services for cyclists. In November 2018 ÖBB together with local authorities installed the additional parking area for 280 bicycles at the Klagenfurt railway station. This allows more passengers to use the bicycle to get to the station. Also, the railway company launches new train connections for journeys with bicycles. This summer the customers can use the train with a special wagon for carrying bicycles to travel to the neighbouring Slovenia and Italy.

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Electric vehicle at ÖBB charging point, source: ÖBB

Electric vehicle at ÖBB charging point, source: ÖBB.

Another green solution implementing by ÖBB is electric vehicles. To this end, the company extends its network of charging points located at the train stations. This creates an opportunity for the passengers from the remote settlements: they can drive to the station by electric vehicle, remain it there for charging and continue their journey by train. The ÖBB’s charging network covers all states of Austria. By the year’s end, it will consist of 47 points (at the beginning of the year the number was around 30). Moreover, ÖBB offers to the customers its own carsharing service that includes the electric car fleet. The railway company operates 20 electric cars for sharing. This number will be increased up to 29 vehicles. In the coming years, ÖBB will continue to develop this service.

Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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