A century-and-a-half-old railway originally named after Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph will be modernized, offering travellers shorter and more sustainable trips between Prague and Vienna. Czech Transport Minister Martin Kupka and Austrian Federal Minister for Climate Protection and Transport Leonore Gewessler signed a joint declaration to upgrade the historical train line in order to meet modern ecological standards.
The modernization of this line is key to the direct connection of important regional centers, such as Austria’s Tulln or the Czech cities of Třeboň and Tábor.Martin Kupka, Czech Transport Minister
“The Franz Josef railway is an important connection for many people in the Silva Nortica region to travel in a climate-friendly and comfortable way. All the more important is the cross-border expansion from Vienna via Gmünd to Prague, on which we agreed today with the Czech Republic”, Gewessler said.
2. Completion by 2028
On the Czech side, the railway line between Veselí nad Lužnicí, just south of Tabor, and České Velenice at the Czech border will be electrified, enabling a passenger and freight connection between Prague and Vienna via Gmünd. The entire Austrian section of the line has been electrified since 1995, however, the modernization work of the Czech section is expected to be completed in 2028. On both sides of the border, increases in line speeds, selective double-track expansion, and modernization of safety technology are planned.
3. Quicker trips & high-speed rail
As soon as the works are completed, the travel time from Vienna’s Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof to Prague’s main station Hlavní nádraží will be reduced by around 40 minutes from the current 5 hours and 10 minutes to around 4 hours and 30 minutes. However, the new agreement is part of a greater project to expand the rail network between Austria and Czechia. Concretely, a Vienna – Brno – Prague route is set to become the main international axis and will be expanded into a high-speed line in the future as part of a route called Via Vindobona, which will extend further to Berlin. This high-speed connection was already agreed to in 2021. This should reduce the target travel time from Vienna to Berlin to around 4 hours and from Vienna to Prague to around 2 hours and 30 minutes. In Austria, part of the railway will be expanded to up to 200 kilometers per hour in the coming years.