Unique Austrian line to lose passenger services

THE 21.2km-long Feldbach to Bad Gleichenberg line, east of Graz, in south-eastern Austria, is closing in December 2020. 

The line is owned and operated by regional rail operator Steiermärkische Landesbahnen (STLB) and has used 1,800V DC electrification since it opened in 1931. 

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The two single-car EMUs used to operate services are the original vehicles, albeit heavily modernised over the subsequent nearly 80 years in use. 

STLB ET2 on the Bad Gleichenberg branch on September 5.The two EMUs were built in Graz in 1930 with AEG electrical equipment. ET2 was rebuilt by Bombardier in the 1990s. ANDREW GARRETT

Replacement of the trains would be expensive as would conversion of the electrification to the Austrian standard of 15kV AC, so it seems closure has been chosen as passenger numbers are low. 

However, it is planned to retain the line for freight and some summer heritage services may be operated from 2021. 

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It is not clear if the electrification will be retained.

Read more News and Features in the December 2019 issue of The Railway Magazine –on sale now!

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...