Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a contract for €1.8 billion to expand and modernise its routes in the south of the country.
The loan will come over the next three years in instalments of €600 million.
The financing will cover the Semmering base tunnel, part of the expansion of the freight terminal Wien Süd, and a section on the double-track planned route of the Pottendorfer line.
These projects are on the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor of the European TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) core routes.
The Semmering Base Tunnel between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag is 27.3km long and will have two parallel tunnels. The contract was awarded in June to a consortium consisting of Implenia, Hochtief and Thyssen Schachtbau.
As the tunnel will have an incline of only 0.85%, the EIB said that heavy freight trains would be able to travel the route in the future using a single locomotive, which was an improvement on the current situation. Passenger trains in the tunnel will reach 250km/h, with time savings between Vienna and Graz of 30 minutes.
The new Wien Süd freight terminal on the outskirts of Vienna will cover about 55ha in the first phase. The EIB said it would provide a central hub for transport to the north, south, east and west.
The double-track extension of the 24km Pottendorfer line between Hennersdorf, Münchendorf and Wampersdorf will increase the capacity of the southern route significantly, said the EIB. When the overall project is complete, there will be four tracks between Vienna and Wiener Neustadt.