AUSTRIAN Federal Railways (ÖBB) says it plans to invest €1bn in renewable energy such as hydro-electric power, wind power and photovoltaics by 2030.

In its first sustainability report, ÖBB says it is already producing around 750GWh of electricity in nine of its own hydro-electric power plants, and another is under construction. There are also four partner power plants in which green traction current is generated exclusively for ÖBB.

ÖBB operates 45 photovoltaic systems with another 30 systems planned for 2022, including a photovoltaic system with heated solar modules for snowy regions. ÖBB’s energy strategy also envisages that in 2022 the first wind turbine producing green traction current will be connected to the grid.

ÖBB’s climate protection strategy is aimed at the gradual decarbonisation of the entire company. The first step is to achieve climate neutrality of ÖBB’s transport operations by 2030 and ÖBB wants all areas of the entire group, such as buildings, to be climate-neutral by between 2040 and 2050.

“Sustainability means that we think about tomorrow in everything we do today and are unconditionally honest about it,” says ÖBB CEO, Mr Andreas Matthä.

The sustainability report was released the same day as ÖBB’s results for the 2021 financial year, which the company says show it has left the coronavirus pandemic behind.

Almost 323 million passengers travelled by train or Postbus in 2021, nearly 13% more than in 2020. However, ÖBB carried around 477 million passengers per year pre-pandemic and ÖBB says it wants to get closer to this figure in 2022.

Passenger revenue rose by 22% to €2.7bn while expenses fell by 18% to €2.5bn. Passenger EBT rose from €6.3m in 2020 to €89.3m in 2021. Freight traffic reached 94.1 million net tonnes in 2021.

Overall, ÖBB was able to close 2021 with Ebit of €170m compared with €58.6m in 2020 and €168.5m in 2019, before the pandemic.

“I am pleased that we are back on track and have been able to continue the economic success before the pandemic,” Matthä says. “This secures our ability to invest. It is the basis for rail expansion and the modernisation of our fleet and infrastructure. We want to invest €4.1bn by 2027 in the renewal of our trains and buses alone.”