Kern's duties have been taken over by ÖBB Holding chief financial officer Mr Josef Halbmayer pending the appointment of an interim CEO, which will take place at an extraordinary meeting of the supervisory board on May 24. A permanent successor will be selected at the supervisory board meeting on July 4.

Kern has also resigned as chairman of the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies (CER), a position he has held since 2014.

Kern was appointed ÖBB CEO in June 2010 and is credited with restoring the financial health of the railway, which was already struggling when the global financial crisis hit. From a loss of €329m in 2010 and €28m in 2011, ÖBB returned to profit in 2012, and was one of only a handful of Europe's incumbent railways to post positive results last year.

Under the Austrian political system the federal chancellor is the head of the government, but does not have powers to direct other members of the cabinet. the chancellor countersigns legislation signed by the president and the duties of the president can be assigned to the chancellor for up to 20 days if the president is unavailable.