Tauern Railway

Tauern Railway

The Tauern Railway or Tauernbahn is an Austrian railway line between Schwarzach-Sankt Veit in the state of Salzburg and Spittal an der Drau in Carinthia. It is part of one of the most important north-south trunk routes (Magistrale) in Europe and also carries tourist traffic for the Gastein Valley.

The standard gauge railway line is 79 km (49 mi) long and climbs the High Tauern range of the Central Eastern Alps with a maximum incline of 2.5%, crossing the Alpine crest through the 8,371 m (27,464 ft) long Tauern Tunnel. It is one of the highest standard gauge railways in Europe and the third highest in Austria.

Tauern Railway History

Since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the Cisleithanian government of Austria-Hungary had urged for a direct connection of the restored main Austrian seaport at Trieste with the Bohemian coalfields and iron works in the northern parts of the Monarchy. After lengthy discussions, the building of the Tauernbahn was set up as a part of the larger "New Alpine Railways" investment project, pushed by the newly established k.k. Railway Ministry under Heinrich von Wittek from 1901 onwards.

Construction was executed by the public Imperial Royal Austrian State Railways to achieve an alternative route bypassing the Southern Railway line from Vienna to Trieste via the Semmering railway operated by the private Austrian Southern Railway company. Other sections built in the course of this infrastructure investment were the Karawanks Railway from Villach to Jesenice, continued by the Bohinj Railway (Wocheiner Bahn) leading through the Julian Alps to Trieste, as well as the railway line from the city of Linz across the Pyhrn Pass to the Selzthal rail hub.

Construction of the Tauern Tunnel began on 24 June 1901, the northern ramp from Schwarzach-St. Veit was built from 1902 onwards. Significant construction cost overruns triggered fierce debates in the Austrian Imperial Council, nevertheless on 20 September 1905 the first section of the line up to Bad Gastein station was ceremonially opened by Emperor Franz Joseph I, Minister-President Paul Gautsch von Frankenthurn, and Archbishop Cardinal Johannes Katschthaler.

The southern ramp down to Spittal an der Drau was erected from 1906 under the supervision of the Viennese engineer and entrepreneur Wilhelm Carl Gustav von Doderer, father of the writer Heimito von Doderer. The railway line was completed in 1909 and inaugurated by the emperor at Spittal station on 5 July.

The tunnel itself had been built double-track, the northern and southern sections only single-track. The Obervellach station near the southern tunnel exit, situated on a slope 365 m (1,198 ft) above the village, from 1931 could be reached by a cable car, that was dismantled in 1976. In 1999 the Obervellach station was finally abandoned and relocated to Mallnitz.

In 1933-35 the Tauern Railway line was completely electrified.

From 1969 onwards further sections were restored to double track including several new passages, viaducts and straightenings to cope with the high traffic load and to allow higher travelling speeds. The southern ramp down to Pusarnitz was completed double-track in 2009, while parts of the former track bed between Mallnitz and Obervellach were turned into a hiking trail. A new double-track bridge in the Gastein valley was put into operation in 2016.

Tauern Railway Rail Service

Since 1920 car shuttle trains (Tauernschleuse) through the Tauern Tunnel ply between the stations of Bad Gastein-Böckstein and Mallnitz. Up to World War II, the Tauern Railway mainly served Austrian domestic rail service, with a few links to Yugoslavia (Zagreb, Belgrade, and the Adriatic coast).

After the war, the number of international train services to Southeast Europe increased as the main route via Bratislava and Budapest was blocked by the Iron Curtain. From 1951 to 1988 the Tauern-Express ran from Ostend to Yugoslavia, including through coaches to Athens and Istanbul, frequently used by migrant workers (Gastarbeiter) in West Germany.

Long-distance services have decreased since the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, and by competition from expanded road connections and cheaper flights. Today the Tauern Railway provides EuroCity service to Zagreb and ÖBB InterCity connections link Salzburg with Klagenfurt, partially served by Railjet trains.

Tauern Railway Overview

Tauern Railway Native Name: Tauernbahn
Tauern Railway Status: Operational
Tauern Railway Owner: Austrian Federal Railways
Tauern Railway Line Number: 222 01
Tauern Railway Locale: Salzburg, Carinthia
Tauern Railway Termini:
Schwarzach-St. Veit
Tauern Railway Stations: 21
Type: Mountain railway
Inter-city rail
Tauern Railway Route Number: 220
Tauern Railway Operator(s): Austrian Federal Railways
Tauern Railway Opened: Stages between 1905-1909
Tauern Railway Line Length: 79 km (49 mi)
Tauern Railway Number of Tracks; Double track
  • Schwarzach-St. V. - Loifarn-Süd (5.4 km)
  • turnout Loifarn 1 - turnout Bad Hofg. 1 (13.3 km)
  • Angertal - turnout Angertal 1 (2.3 km)
  • Böckstein - Spittal-Millstättersee (46.5 km)
Single Track
Tauern Railway Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1/2 in) standard gauge
Tauern Railway Minimum Radius: 247 m (810.4 ft)
Tauern Railway Electrification: 15 kV/16.7 Hz AC Overhead line
Tauern Railway Operating Speed: 130 km/h (81 mph)
Tauern Railway Maximum Incline: 3.0 %

Tauern Railway Route Map Legend

km                                          elevation
Salzburg-Tyrol Railway from Salzburg
0.000 Schwarzach-St. Veit
Salzburg-Tyrol Railway to Wörgl
Untersberg Tunnel (270 m)
Kenlach Tunnel (314 m)
Birgl Tunnel (960 m)
5.431 Loifarn (since 2006 no passenger services)
6.800 Loifarn-Süd
break in kilometrage (-319 m)
Lower Klamm Tunnel (739.38 m)
Oberer Klamm Tunnel (744.01 m)
Loifarn 1 turnout (break in kilometrage (-45 m))
Klammstein ( closed 01.06.1991)
Gasteiner Ache
14.313 Dorfgastein
19.281 Bad Hofgastein
22.360 Bad Hofgastein stop
22.570 Bad Hofgastein 1 turnout

Angerschlucht Bridge
New bridge (138 m)
25.390 Angertal since 2006 no passenger services
27.662 turnout Angertal 1
break in kilometrage (-60 m)
30.078 Bad Gastein
Nassfelder Ache
34.183 Böckstein BSicon CARSHUTTLE.svg
break in kilometrage (-4 m)
34.816 Tauern Tunnel (8370 m)
Tauern Tunnel ( closed 2001)
43.347 Mallnitz-HintertalBSicon CARSHUTTLE.svg
45.110 Mallnitz-Nord
45.932 Mallnitz-Obervellach formerly Mallnitz
break in kilometrage (-862 m)

Dösen Tunnel (891.19 m)
47.635 Kaponig Tunnel (5096 m)
51.738 Mallnitz-Obervellach crossover 2
51.767 Kaponig formerly Obervellach closed 1999
Upper Kaponig Tunnel (236.05 m)
Rescue gallery
Ochenig Tunnel (690 m)
Lower Kaponig Tunnel (789.22 m)
Upper Lindisch Tunnel (260 m)
Lindischgraben Bridge (283 m)
Lower Lindisch Tunnel (379 m)
55.819 Oberfalkenstein
Leutschach Tunnel (247 m)
Falkenstein Tunnel (67 m)
Falkenstein Bridge (396 m)
Gratschach Tunnel (357 m)
Pfaffenberg Bridge (377 m)
Pfaffenberg Tunnel (499 m)
Zwengenberg Tunnel (391 m)
break in kilometrage (-358 m)
58.417 Penk
Mölltheuergraben Bridge (94 m)
Litzelsdorfergraben Bridge (185 m)
Rieckenbach Bridge (190 m)
64.790 Kolbnitz
69.124 Kolbnitz crossover 2
69.360 Mühldorf-Möllbrücke
69.428 Bahnhof Mühldorf-Möllbrücke
replaced by Kolbnitz crossover 2
72.904 Pusarnitz
74.000 Pusarnitz-Süd
74.394 Line 407 01 turnout
Drava Valley Railway from Innichen
80.897 Spittal-Millstättersee
Drava Valley Railway to Villach and Maribor

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