Vorarlberg RailwayVorarlberg Railway
The Vorarlberg Railway or Vorarlbergbahn denotes a through line running through the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. Its route is similar to the Rheintal/Walgau Autobahn from the border between Lindau and Hörbranz to Bludenz, where it connects to the Arlberg Railway. The entire route in Austria is owned and is operated up to Lindau-Insel by the Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB).
The Vorarlberg Railway is the western continuation of the Arlberg Railway (ÖBB timetable number AT 401) through the Walgau valley and the Vorarlberg section of the Rhine Valley.
Vorarlberg Railway History
Vorarlberg Railway Planning Phase
Already in 1847, the entrepreneur Carl Ganahl, later the main proponent of the railway construction in the Vorarlberg, recognised the importance of a railway line in the Vorarlberg, although there were many problems with this idea. No mountain railway, which would be needed to cross the Arlberg, had yet been built in Austria and a line with no connection to the Tyrolean areas seemed useless. Moreover, Vorarlberg was not an independent crown land of Austria-Hungary, and thus possessed no representatives in the Imperial Council (Reichsrat) in Vienna.
Operations commenced on the Bavarian Ludwig South-North Railway to Lindau in 1853 and the Swiss lines from Rorschach to Rheineck and from Rheineck to Chur opened in 1857. On the Austrian side the line from Kufstein to Innsbruck via Wörgl was connected to the railway network in 1859. In 1856, the president of the newly formed association now called the Vorarlberg Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Carl Ganahl signed a petition for approval of the preliminary work.
He allowed only two years for the preparation of the first detailed design for the project, which he paid for out of his own pocket. In the same year he made a formal application for a license for the project to the Imperial and Royal (kaiserlich und königlich) Ministry of Commerce. There the application was postponed temporarily because consultation had to be held first with the neighbouring states. This meant that it would be as late as 1865 before the signing of treaties could be concluded.
Previously, in 1864, the Ministry of Commerce had submitted a railway construction programme that would also include for the first time the construction of a line from Innsbruck to Dornbirn. In March 1867, the first concept of the Vorarlberg side was submitted, which would also accommodate the construction of a tunnel between St. Anton and Langen. The Imperial Council approved the application in 1867, but construction began only on 1 May 1869.
Vorarlberg Railway Implementation and Construction
After Carl Ganahl prevailed over two other competitors for the construction contract, work began on the construction of the first railway line in the Vorarlberg in October 1870. The bulk of the construction was carried out in 1871 as some sections could only be built after objections had been dealt with. The newly created corporation of the Royal Vorarlberg Railway (k. k. priv. Vorarlberger Bahn), a Vienna-based company received its license from the Companies Registry on 5 May 1871, its statutes were approved on 9 June, its constitution on 3 July and it was entered in the companies register on 8 July. It would have a virtually unlimited capital, since its shares were oversubscribed twenty times.
The first ceremonial run on the Bludenz-Lochau line (neal Bregenz) was hauled by a steam locomotive, which had been given the name of Bregenz, on 30 June 1872. Finally, the line was handed over for public service on 1 July 1872. The railway was finally connected to the rest of the Austrian railway network by the construction of the Arlberg Railway Tunnel in 1884.
The link to Buchs and to Lindau opened on 14 October 1872 and the connection to St. Margrethen opened on 23 November 1872. The first continuous express ran on the route on 1 November 1873, running on the route from Zurich Main Station to Munich. The Vorarlberg Railway's connection with the rest of the Austrian railway network also meant the end of its era of independence as it became state-owned.
The railway line was completely electrified in 1954. The section from Bludenz to Feldkirch was duplicated in 1991, followed by the line Feldkirch to Bregenz in 1995. The section from Lochau/Hörbranz to Bregenz-Hafen is still only single-track.
Vorarlberg Railway Construction and Engineering
The main route of the line, with the exception of the Bregenz-Lochau section, is duplicated and fully electrified, while the section from the state border to Lindau-Insel station represents a special case in that the overhead electrical line was built by the ÖBB workshop in Bludenz to German regulations. Until 2020, there was no connection in Germany to the German railway electrical network and this section was supplied with current from Austria.
For this reason (and because Lindau-Insel station (formerly called Lindau Hauptbahnhof) is a terminal station) almost all international trains had to switch from the electrical locomotives of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) or ÖBB to the diesel locomotives of Deutsche Bahn (or vice versa) in Lindau. The lines to Munich and to Friedrichshafen (Bodensee-Gürtelbahn and Wuerttemberg Southline) are now electrified and all trains now run via a rebuilt station at Lindau-Reutin, which does not require reversal.
Feldkirch-Buchs Connecting Line
At the northern end of Feldkirch station a single-track, electrified, 18.5 km line branches to Buchs from Bregenz. Although this line runs through the territory of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, it is completely operated and maintained by the ÖBB.
In Buchs comes it connects with the St. Gallen-St. Margrethen-Sargans-Chur line of the SBB. Together with that part of the main line from Bludenz to Feldkirch, this connecting line is also an important part of the east-west EuroCity connection between Vienna and Zurich. However, a change direction in Buchs and a change locomotives from ÖBB to SBB (or vice versa) is also required.
Lauterach-St Margrethen Link
In the area of Lauterach station a triangular junction was created to connect to Switzerland. The link from Feldkirch to Switzerland is only used by freight trains to Switzerland or to the petroleum storage of OMV in Lustenau, while the link from Bregenz is used primarily by passenger trains and is part of the major route between Munich and Zurich.
In St.Margrethen the line connects to the St. Gallen-St. Margrethen-Sargans-Chur line of the SBB. Towards St. Gallen no change in direction of the train is required and most international trains between Switzerland and Germany are drawn by SBB locomotives, which have special pantographs for ÖBB and DB lines.
Vorarlberg Railway Overview
Vorarlberg Railway Native Name: Vorarlbergbahn
Vorarlberg Railway Line Number: 5420
Vorarlberg Railway Locale: Vorarlberg, Austria
Vorarlberg Railway Route Number: 101 05
Vorarlberg Railway Line Length: 67.746 km (42.095 mi)
Vorarlberg Railway Number of Tracks:
Vorarlberg Railway Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1/2 in) standard gauge
Vorarlberg Railway Minimum Radius: 321 m (1,053 ft)
Vorarlberg Railway Electrification: 15 kV 16.7 Hz
Vorarlberg Railway Operating Speed: 160 km/h (99.4 mph) (maximum)
Vorarlberg Railway Maximum Incline: 1.4%
Vorarlberg Railway Route Map
Line 5421 from Lindau-Aeschach junction
1.6 Lindau Langenweg
3.8 Lindau Strandbad
5.4 Lindau-Zech (1944: Lindau-Siebertsdorf)
5.941 Border: D/A
5.988 Unterhochsteg (until 15 May 1939)
7.261 Haggen (until 6 October 1940)
7.7 Langer Stein (until 15 February 1943)
9.150 Tannenbach (until 24 November 1971)
9.7 Bregenz Hafen
10.405 Bregenz 398 m above sea level (AA)
Bregenzerwald Railway to Bezau
12.390 Bregenz Riedenburg
13.202 Lauterach Nord
ÖBB to St. Margrethen
ÖBB to St. Margrethen
14.707 Wolfurt-Lauterach Süd
18.620 Schwarzach in Vorarlberg (formerly Schwarzach-Wolfurt)
22.233 Dornbirn 431 m above sea level (AA)
30.121 Hohenems 421 m above sea level (AA)
32.214 Altach (formerly Altach-Bauern)
32.368 Loacker siding
34.760 Götzis 426 m above sea level (AA)
Sattelberg tunnel (81 m)
38.145 Klaus in Vorarlberg siding (1944: Klaus-Koblach)
38.145 Klaus in Vorarlberg Lst
42.518 Rankweil 463 m above sea level (AA)
44.855 Feldkirch Amberg
from Buchs SG
46.912 Feldkirch 457 m above sea level (AA)
Schattenburg tunnel (138 and 909 m)
51.387 Frastanz 472 m above sea level (AA)
56.198 Schlins-Beschling (1944: Schlins)
56.984 Ludesch 1 crossover
57.739 Nenzing 507 m above sea level (AA)
58.849 Hydro Aluminium siding
Ludesch (formerly Ludesch-Thüringen
(1944: Großwalsertal)) 535 m above sea level (AA)
67.746 Bludenz 558 m above sea level (AA)
Arlberg Railway to Innsbruck