Travelling by train in Austria

General information

Welcome to our guide how to save money, time and confusion when travelling in and from/to Austria by train.

Click the links below for instant access for the info you need.

Or take time out to discover all you need to know about making your Austrian train travel experience as fabulous as possible!

TRAINS      l         STATIONS   

      l         SCENIC JOURNEYS 


Travelling by train in Austria is generally a joy.

On the majority of journeys you’ll be passing through stunning scenery, most stations look as they were built or modernized yesterday.

Also the ticketing and trains are comparatively uncomplicated.

ÖBB is the national operator and it provides the majority of trains - except for;

(1) some independent scenic mountain railways

(2) and it has competition from Westbahn on the Wien/Vienna – Linz – Salzburg route.

Austrian Trains AND trains from and to Austria - 7 Things that are good to know:

1. The pride of ÖBB are the Railjets which depending on your point of view are either hideously ugly or wonderfully futuristic.

However, what they definitely are is comparatively comfortable.

Railjets used to be only used on the top tier express routes in Europe, but they're now used on virtually all long distance 'express trains' between major cities.

On the main Wien - Linz - Salzburg - (Innsbruck) route some Railjets are faster than others, because they skip more stations' and OBB has now branded these services as 'Railjet - Express'.
On the OBB ticket booking site, RJX is used for these faster trains.

Railjets are also used on international journeys - to/from:

- Budapest via Gyor
- Prague/Praha via Breclav
- Zurich via Buchs
- Munchen/Munich
- Venezia/Venice via Udine

2IC Trains:

IC trains are more typical of standard, but comfortable, European express trains, and prior to the arrival of the Railjets, they were the top tier trains on ÖBB.

Though these IC train services are becoming quite rare as on many routes and services, they have been replaced by Railjets in recent years.

They are now mainly used on less frequent services - some tourist destinations have one or two direct trains per day from Wien/Vienna and IC trains are used on these services.

3. Austrian IC coaches are also used for the international EC (EuroCity) trains on these routes:

(ii) Munchen - Innsbruck – Bolzano – Verona – Bologna/Venezia

(iii) Munchen – Salzburg – Villach – Ljubljana – Zagreb

(iv) Wien – Graz – Maribor Ljubljana/Zagreb

Reservations are compulsory when travelling to Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia.

4. Seats don’t HAVE to be reserved on Railjets or IC trains.

Unless you’re travelling at peak business hours,(particularly on Fridays) OR on summer Sunday afternoons - finding a spare seat is unlikely to be a problem.

5For peace of mind you can opt to pay a reservation fee on Railjets and ICs when booking online.

6. Non express trains operated by ÖBB have differing categories depending if they operate in big cities or not.

Longer distance regional trains are branded REX.

1st class is not usually available on REX trains or local trains.

7German ICE-T trains are used on these routes 

(i) Wien – Linz – Nurnberg – Wurzburg – Frankfurt – Koln

(i) Wien – Linz – Nurnberg – Wurzburg – Kassel - Hannover - Hamburg (1 x train per day)

Reservations are optional, but highly recommended on these t

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SCENIC JOURNEYS IN AUSTRIA  - Nine Popular routes.

1(Wien) - Bruck an der Mur - Klagenfurt - Villach

2. (Salzburg/Linz) - Attnang-Puchheim - Hallstat - Bad Ischl - Steinach-Irdning

3. Innsbruck - Brennero - (Italy)

4. Innsbruck - Seefeld - Garmisch

5. Innsbruck - Worgl - Zell am See - Shwarzach St Veit - Salzburg

6. Innsbruck - Bludenz - Feldkirch - Bregenz/Buchs

7. St Polten - Mariazell

8. Salzburg - Villach - Klagenfurt

9. (Wien) - Wiener Neustadt - Graz

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Austrian Train STATIONS  - 11 Things that are good to know:



1Austria’s major stations (the hauptbahnhofs) including those in Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg and Wien/Vienna are comparatively simple to use.

They all follow a similar pattern of having underground passages that are located beneath the tracks that give access to the trains above.

There are always lifts and escalators which connect the bahnsteigs (platforms/tracks) that the trains arrive at/depart from with these passage ways.

You never HAVE to use the stairs at a hauptbahnhof (major station) to access the trains.

2The signage at OBB’s stations are bi-lingual, it is in English and German but the announcements will be in German only.

3Announcements are generally made to alert travellers to something out of the ordinary, such as delays

If you think the announcement may be referring to your train watch the departure screens closely.

Particularly pay attention to any scrolling text to the right of the ‘nach’ column – which shows the train’s final destination.

The English translation should follow the German text, so you may need patience to find out what you need to know.

4The major stations don’t have paper departure sheets, so you have to depend on the electronic departure screen.

So at busy times the smaller screens will only show trains departing in around the next 25 mins.

5If you will be changing trains at a hauptbahnhof (major station) there will be blue electronic departure summary screens on the bahnsteig (platform/track).

If you will be changing trains and can’t see your next train on this departure screen, the best option is usually to make your way to the main departure hall.

Then wait there for the details of your next train to be confirmed.

You may then need to re-trace your steps, but you can often avoid this if you will be travelling on a Railljet, IC train, or on some EC trains.

Check the paper guide to the train you’re travelling by – which you should find by your seat.

It will list the details of connections from your train, including the number of the bahnsteig (platform/track) which your next train SHOULD be departing from.

Finding Your Train:

1When looking at the main departure screens ‘Abfarht’ = departures and ‘Ankunft’ = arrivals

2The bahnsteigs (platforms/tracks) at the hauptbahnhofs (major stations) are divided into zones -  A to E.

Most trains only occupy some of these zones, they tend to be shorter than the bahnsteigs (platforms/tracks)

3On the blue departure screens, small and large, the NUMBER of the bahnsteig (platform/track) will be listed to the right, of the list of stations that the train will be calling at.

To the right of this ‘bahnsteig’ number will be some letters and these letters are the zones on the bahnsteig (platform/track) where the train will depart from.

4When you arrive on the bahnsteig you will see other blue screens, from a distant they look similar to the smaller version of the departure screens, but they show different information.

These screens show the ‘Wagenreihung’ – the formations of the next three trains to depart from the bahnsteig (platform/track).

They indicate which zone each specific coach of a train will occupy when it arrives .

So they’re very useful for working in which zone you should wait for 1st class, or for a specific coach/wagen where a reserved seat will be located.

5The depature indicators on the bahnsteigs (platforms/tracks) can show the details of arriving trains.

So don't be surprised if you don't initially see the details of the train you will be taking.

6If you have a reservation or a Sparschiene ticket it will have a Zug (train) number on it – a four digit number beneath the departure date and time.

This number will also be shown in the ‘Zug’ column on the blue departure screens.

If you will be taking an international train and aren’t sure of its final destination, you may need to rely on this ‘Zug’ number to work out which bahnsteig (platform/track) your train will be leaving from.

The stations that international trains call at can be omitted from the departure screens, but you can use the ‘Zug’ number to find your train.

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Austrian Train TICKETS  - Seven Things that are good to know:

More info is available if you click the green 'Tickets & Passes' button below.

1. The discounted tickets for journeys by Railjets, IC trains and on international trains from Austria are branded ‘Sparschiene’, but these tickets can ONLY be booked online.

2. The price of ‘Sparschiene’ tickets can increase depending on how popular a departure is.

So it can be a good idea to search through departures to find the cheapest fares - particularly when travelling between Wien/Vienna and both Salzburg and Innsbruck.

3. Tickets are available on OBB up to 4 months ahead of the travel date.

4. Note the restrictions when booking Sparschiene’ tickets - 1st AND 2nd class.

They will be specific to the departure you selected when making a booking AND can't be refunded at all if YOU subsequently change your travel plans.

They also can't be exchanged to alternative, later departures

5. When looking up journeys the only price you will initially see is the cheapest 2nd class price per departure.

You need to click on this 2nd class price in order to access a range of upgrades, which are

(i) 1st class tickets

(ii) Seat reservations

(iii) Adding 'highest flexibility' to your booking - do that and your ticket won't be tied to a specific departure.

6. Children aged 5 and under travel for free

Children aged 6 – 15 travel at half-fare.

7. You can’t just hop on a train with your bike in Austria.

To travel by regional REX trains you will need to purchase a special bicycle ticket, which costs 10% of the full price 2nd class ticket – a minimum fee of €2 applies.

For journeys by Railjet trainsIC trains and on international EC trains within Austria,  you will need to reserve a space for your bike prior to boarding – the reservation fee for bikes on these trains is €3.50.

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