GERMAN Rail (DB) and Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) have announced plans to increase the number of cross-border long-distance passenger services with the start of the new timetable on December 10.

The two railways say that traffic between Germany and Austria is growing fast and that by the end of thise year, they predict that around 40% more passengers will be using cross-border services than five years ago.

In December, a second daily ICE service will be introduced between Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg and Vienna. DB and ÖBB will also increase the frequency of the ICE service from Berlin via Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart to Innsbruck to daily instead of only at weekends.

In the future, long-distance trains will run every hour between Munich and Salzburg from around 06.00 to 21.00. Currently, trains operate roughly every two hours, supplemented by five round trips per day by open-access competitor Westbahn. The Munich - Innsbruck service will continue to operate every two hours.

To improve service quality, DB will introduce its ICE 4 trains on the Frankfurt am Main - Munich - Salzburg - Klagenfurt route while ÖBB will gradually introduce its new generation of Railjet trains on the Munich - Innsbruck - Italy service from April 2024, replacing traditional locomotive-hauled trains.

ÖBB and DB are also expanding their cooperation on overnight services. A new Nightjet service will be introduced in December from Berlin and Vienna to Paris and Brussels, initially operating three times a week and then daily from autumn 2024.

ÖBB plans to introduce its new 230km/h Nightjet trains being supplied by Siemens from the end of this year. Initially they will operate on the Hamburg - Vienna and Hamburg - Innsbruck routes. The new trains will then enter service on other overnight routes linking Austria, Germany and Italy during 2024.

Stefanie Berk, DB Long Distance, and Dr Sabine Stock, ÖBB. Photo: Deutsche Bahn/David Hecker

“The trend towards rail is unbroken,” says Ms Stefanie Berk, director of marketing and sales with DB Long-Distance. “We want to further stimulate growth with new trains, more comfort and more connections.”

“We want to double the number of passengers on Nightjet transport by 2030,” says Dr Sabine Stock, ÖBB board member for passenger transport. “DB plays an important role here, as many Nightjet lines start and end in Germany. The new connections from Berlin to Paris and Brussels and the use of the new- generation Nightjets in Germany are strong signs that DB and ÖBB believe in the night train product and will provide more services.”