AUSTRIA’s Ministry of Finance has agreed to extend support to Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Westbahn to operate inter-city services on the Vienna - Salzburg main line.

ÖBB will receive €24.4m and Westbahn €4.9m to subsidise operation from February 8 until April 7.

Both operators said last week that they would have to reduce services on the route without additional government financial support, with Westbahn threatening to cut its frequency by 50% from February 16. A previous €44.5m package subsidising a half-hourly service provided by both operators expired on February 7.

An extension of the funding was cast into doubt by finance minister, Mr Gernot Blümel, who questioned the logic of continuing to support ÖBB, which is a profitable enterprise, disputing claims from Green climate and transport minister, Ms Leonore Gewessler, that the funding was essential and that it should be extended.

However, a spokesperson for Blümel confirmed to local media that these concerns have now been answered.

“It is important that commuters can now be certain that the timetable will not be reduced,” Blümel said in a statement. “At the same time, companies now also have economic planning security. And last but not least, taxpayers can trust that we will handle their money carefully, even during the crisis. We are as strict as necessary and as accommodating as possible, even with state-owned companies.

The mutual ticket sharing agreement between the two operators has resumed under the revised agreement. Overall, ÖBB is once again offering an hourly Railjet Express service on the route with conventional Railjet and Westbahn operating every two hours to provide a half hourly frequency.