Investment in Vienna's future12 April 2013
Vienna’s public transport network is embracing efficiency and modernity as it attempts to alleviate the pressure placed upon it by increased passenger volumes. Urban Transport Agenda sits down with Wiener Linien CEO Günter Steinbauer to discuss the challenges and long-term benefits of upgrading the Austrian city’s vital metro system.
Urban Transport Agenda: What was the overriding reason for upgrade the Vienna Metro?
Günter Steinbauer: Public transport has gained more popularity over the last few years, which lead to an increase in passengers. The metro forms the backbone of public transport in Vienna; about 1.5 million passengers use the network with its five lines every day. In 2012, more than 900 million passengers travelled with Wiener Linien and 39% of all journeys within the city were made by public transport. The increased number of passengers demands continuous investments in the network infrastructure and vehicles in order to maintain a high level of operational standards.
How will train intervals be reduced at peak times and how will this improve capacity and customer flow?
Wiener Linien ordered five additional U6 trains from Bombardier in 2011 in order to reduce peak time intervals from three to 2.5 minutes. This will lead to an increase of morning and late afternoon capacity on the U6 line by 20%. The trains are scheduled to be delivered in late 2013 and will be completed in 2014.
What technological advances will be introduced to provide a better experience for customers, as well as overall economic benefits to the city?
The U6 is the longest metro line in Vienna, used by around 130 million passengers a year. The 20 new light-rail vehicles (LRVs) will make the U6 more attractive and comfortable, and provide additional capacity for future increases in passenger ridership.
The size of the vehicle fleet for metro line U6 in Vienna will increase from 124 today to 144 by 2014. The new vehicles will result in 20% more capacity in the morning and late afternoon. With the arrival of 20 additional LRVs, the proportion of air-conditioned vehicles operated by the Vienna Transport Authority - which ensure agreeable inside temperatures even during hot summers - will increase from 37% to approximately 46% in 2014.
Video surveillance inside the vehicles, and visual and acoustic warning devices in the entrance areas ensure passenger safety. In addition, the total number of seats and transport capacity will rise by approximately 20%. Together, the city of Vienna, the Vienna Transport Authority and Bombardier are providing increased comfort to all passengers on the U6 metro line.
Can you discuss any advancement in communications on the trains to enable efficient service?
The new LRVs can be coupled with the existing fleet of 124 city trams currently in operation on the metro line 6 to ensure efficient service and operation. The LRVs are tailor-made for the existing infrastructure of the historical metro line U6 in Vienna and equipped with conventional axle bogies, thus providing smooth riding comfort for the passengers, and limited wear on wheel and rail. Further key characteristics of the vehicles are high availability and reliability as well as low lifecycle costing, which is very important as each LRV covers an annual distance of approximately 100,000km.
Will the trains be manned, fully automated or a combination of the two?
The vehicles are manned and operated in a combination of up to four LRVs per train set. The LRVs are 26.8m long and 2.65m wide, and offer 58 seats and space for 136 standees for a total transport capacity of 194 passengers per LRV; that's up to 776 passengers per four-vehicle train set. In addition, each vehicle is equipped with two multipurpose areas for up to eight wheelchairs or prams.
What green credentials (regenerative breaking, design and construction materials, etc) do the new trains have?
Due to the recuperation of braking energy and the innovative LED lighting system, the vehicles are highly energy efficient. The ecological LED technology reduces each vehicle's energy consumption over the course of its lifecycle by 2.5 million kilowatt hours and its CO2 emissions by 1,500t. Prior to the purchase of the new vehicles, this technology was successfully tested in a U6 train in 2011.
What are the main challenges to accommodating increasing passenger numbers?
Wiener Linien will invest €660 million in the further expansion of its fleet until 2017. Furthermore, the expansion of the public transport network in Vienna is being promoted. Thus, the extension of line U2 will be opened later this year. Also, construction works on the extension of line U1 to the south of Vienna are already in full swing, with the opening scheduled for 2017.
How will the population be incentivised to use public transportation more?
The Vienna Transport Authority set new benchmarks with the ticket price reform in 2012 - the price for annual tickets, for example, was reduced to €365. Combined with the continuous investments in the extension of the public transport system, the price-performance ratio increases constantly.
These developments have lead to public transport becoming increasingly popular, which results in rising passenger volumes.