Operational Concept 2025+ for the Semmering Railway

Operational Concept 2025+ for the Semmering Railway

Nominated for The Planning for Sustainable Land Use and Transport Award


Stefan Flucher, Graz University of Technology, Michael Haberl, Graz University of Technology, Martin Fellendorf, Graz University of Technology


The paper examines a subsequent usage of Semmering mountain section after a parallel running base tunnel enters service in 2025, using a macroscopic transport model. An operational concept with a recommendable timetable is proposed.


The Semmering Railway is considered as the first mountain railway in Europe and was constructed between 1848 and 1854. As part of the historic Southern Railway of Austria, it connects Vienna and Trieste. When the parallel running Semmering base tunnel enters service in 2025, a shift of traffic flow from the mountain track and a change of transport demand can be expected. This abstract estimates the subsequent usage of the mountainous tracks of the Semmering mountain section using a macroscopic transport model (PTV Visum). Based on the shift of traffic flow, an analysis of requirements of the mountain track leads to a new operational concept, which:

• can handle freight traffic in case of maintenance of the tunnel,
• offers a demand-driven timetable to passengers and
• enables touristic usage of the World Heritage.

The work can be subdivided into two main parts. First of all, the potential of public transport demand of Semmering Railway between Mürzzuschlag and Gloggnitz in 2025 was determined. This investigation is essential for the second part, which deals with the operational and infrastructural requirements of the future use of the Semmering mountain section. To estimate the potential of public transport demand, a macroscopic transport model was set up and calibrated for working day traffic in 2014. The approach requires a well-kept and calibrated multimodal travel demand model capable of modelling modal shift and sensitive to timetable changes. Sociodemographic data (e.g population, employees, students, trainees, touristic attraction potential, leisure attraction potential), mobility behaviour data and existing network with public transport services were integrated for the base year 2014 and forecasted until year 2025. The existing network was extracted from the GIP, which is a joint, nationwide transport graph, maintained by and available to all Austrian authorities. To represent Semmering base tunnel in the network for the forecast year 2025, a new railway section with high speed intercity rail service between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag was implemented. It is compatible to the target timetable 2025+ of the Austrian Federal Railways. As a consequence, no more intercity service will be offered on the Semmering mountain section when the base tunnel enters service. Concerning the required data, details of the base year were provided by Statistic Austria. For the forecast year various prognoses by the Austrian Conference on Spatial Planning, Statistic Austria and the Cooperation Open Government Data Austria were used to extrapolate sociodemographic data.

Two demand models for domestic traffic and touristic traffic were established, using Four-Step Traffic Demand Model. Regarding domestic traffic of Semmering region, surveyed trip chains of appropriate behaviour homogenous groups of the province Styria (Austria) were used. The traffic behaviour of the different groups should be clearly different, but within the individual groups it should be as homogenous as possible. In case of touristic traffic behaviour in Semmering region, results of a survey on travel demand modelling of touristic trips were adopted. After successful calibration of the macroscopic transport model for 2014, forecast data of 2025 were implemented to estimate the potential of public transport demand of Semmering mountain section in 2025.

The paper will include detailed investigations of different timetables (half-hourly interval, hourly interval, two-hour interval and two-hour interval with condensed service in rush hour) and their impact on the amount of passengers and transport demand of the forecast year 2025. Based on this investigation a two-hour interval with additional service in rush hours suits best. It should be noted that all versions of timetables are theoretically feasible. On the basis of this two-hour interval with additional service in rush hours, a recommended timetable was developed, which includes time slots for special touristic trains and nostalgic trips to enable touristic usage of the World Heritage as well.


Association for European Transport