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Accomodations in Austria

Cosmo and Nanu


Westbahn welcomes 6,000 a day

Westbahn manages to sell one in two of the overall number of tickets it offers, a spokesman said today (Fri).

Manfred Mader told the Kurier that the private passenger railway service provider recorded nearly 6,000 passengers on average each day. He explained that around 50 per cent of tickets were sold at the moment. Westbahn became the first domestic competitor of Federal Railways (ÖBB) when it started operating in December of last year. The company offers several daily connections between federal capital Vienna and provincial capital Salzburg.

Westbahn hoped to convince former ÖBB clients to switch to its trains by offering a wireless internet connection and restrooms separated by sex. It cooperates with bakery chain Ströck about on-board food services. ÖBB revealed only last week that it decided to team up with airline catering expert DO&CO. The state-funded railroad firm came under fire last year when investigative journalists claimed that its catering provider served up sausages past their expiry date. ÖBB, which has more than 42,000 employees, registered 210 million passengers in 2010. Westbahn has a workforce level of around 200.

Mader said today that Westbahn benefited from the Viennese government’s intention to increase the inner-city zone where drivers must pay for parking their cars. The Viennese Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou’s Green Party agreed last year to jack up the price for two hours of parking from 2.40 to four Euros. Various other parking ticket versions will become more expensive as well. The reform comes into effect in March. Motorists must pay for parking in Vienna’s nine central districts at the moment. The city coalition plans to hold referendums in several other districts to find out how residents would react to an expansion of the area where using parking ticket was mandatory.

Westbahn was established by Hans Peter Haselsteiner, the CEO of Strabag SE, in 2008. Strabag leads the domestic construction sector. It is strongly engaged across Eastern Europe (EE), especially in Poland and Russia, but also in the Arabian region. Haselsteiner holds a 26 per cent share in Westbahn. Paris-based railway enterprise Societe nationale des chemins de fer francais (SNCF) acquired a stake of the same size half a year ago. Around 130 million Euros were invested into Westbahn before the company began operating on 11 December 2011. Westbahn is headed by Stefan Wehinger. The former ÖBB manager said the goal was to achieve an operating profit in 2012.

Westbahn has clashed with ÖBB in court about various issues in the past months. The private railroad company is now forced to brace for legal altercations with anti-smoking initiatives. Self-proclaimed smoking sheriffs recently decided to prepare a lawsuit against Westbahn over an alleged breach of Austrian smoking laws. They claimed the rail enterprise’s smoker cabins contradicted federal restrictions on smoking in public places. The campaigners complained that non-smokers were often forced to walk through the on-train smoking areas to reach their seats.

Austrian Times

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