A new integrated public transport concept for the Wachau
Topic of the practice
Sustainable mobility and transport
Good Practice Information
The most problematic aspect of tourism in the Wachau valley was the lack of systematically organized public transport facilities. So far, the only chance to be able to experience the whole valley in depth was to drive your own car. Even though there were certain transport means available, like the famous tourism ship lines or the Wachau railway, many important sites of interest, like the famous monasteries of Melk and Göttweig or the castle ruin of Aggstein, were difficult to be reached by public transport. In addition to that, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) made clear that they were not willing to keep up the Wachau railway, since they didn’t feel able to run the railway in an economically sustainable way. This is why the Lower Austrian State agreed to buy the railway from the ÖBB. Nevertheless, the State government together with the 13 communities of the region decided to not keep up the railway as a normal means of public transport. Instead, the railway will be redesigned as a modern touristic railway, thus not having to
restore the monument-protected railway line in a totally modern way, but being able to keep up the infrastructure the way it is now. Public transport both for local inhabitants and for tourists will mainly be taken over by a bus system. Since it is much cheaper to run busses than railways, this decision enables the region to use the available resources for a dense regular intervall schedule on both banks of the Danube (hourly busses from early morning until night on the north bank, busses every second hour on the southern bank). Both busses will, for the first time, connect the two major cities of the region, Krems and Melk, without the need to change transport means. The bus system will also connect the villages of the hinterland with the main lines along the Danube. In addition to that, the region implemented the first bike rental system in rural Austria. A number of private franchise owners offer electric means of transport for rent. And a tourism concept will evaluate the options of how to better link the future tourism railway with the tourism ships on the Danube.
Evidence of success
This is a good practice example because we managed to safeguard the existence of the railway - which is a main interest of the World Heritage people - at the same time as significantly upgrading the supply of public transport in the region. The concept will help to solve a problem which the World Heritage site was suffering from over decades. And, for the time given, there were no real alternatives to implementing the system. It is, in the end, almost entirely paid for by the provincial government, thus enabling the communities to concentrate on other important tasks.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Arbeitskreis Wachau - Regionalentwicklung
Annex completed on: 03-28-2011