While the country bemoans the state of its ‘rundown’ rail system, travellers praise it to the heavens. It’s good by any standard, and if you use a discount card it’s inexpensive.
The ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen; Austrian Federal Railways; 24-hour hotline 05 1717; www.oebb.at) is the main operator, supplemented by a handful of private lines. You can call 24 hours to book a ticket or get information. Its website has national and international connections, and online national train booking. Only national connections have prices, unless they are special deals to and from neighbouring countries. The website also shows Postbus services.
Buying tickets Tickets can be purchased by telephone (you'll be given a 12-digit collection code for printing the ticket at a machine or at the service desk). Other methods include online (with registration and self-printing), from staffed counters at stations and from machines at stations.
Reservations Cost €3.50 for most 2nd-class express services within Austria. If you haven’t reserved ahead, check before you sit whether your intended seat has been reserved by someone else. Reservations are recommended for weekend travel.
Passengers with disabilities Call 05 1717 for special travel assistance (you can also do this while booking your ticket by telephone). Staff at stations will help with boarding and alighting. Order this at least 24 hours ahead of travel (48 hours ahead for international services).
Smoking Not allowed on trains.
Etiquette The ÖBB takes a strong stand on putting your feet on the seats. You can be fined for it.
Depending on the exact route, a fare can vary slightly.
Depending on the amount of travelling you intend to do in Austria and your residency status, rail passes can be a good deal. They can be purchased from any major train station.
These ÖBB discount tickets can be purchased by anyone. They offer a 45% discount on inland trains for tickets purchased at the counter and 50% if you buy at a ticket machine. After purchasing one (bring a photo and your passport or other ID), you receive a temporary card and can begin using it right away. The plastic permanent card is posted to your home address. It’s valid for one year, but not on buses. For more information visit the ÖBB website, and look under Tickets & Discounts.
Classic (€19) For those over 26.
Family (€19) Valid for up to two adults and any number of children. The children must be travelling with you. Children under 14 years travel free on this card. Also offers 50% discount on Postbus services for adults and up to two children.
Jugend <26 (€19) For those under 26.
Senior (€29) For women or men over 60 years.
Available only to non-European residents, Eurail passes are valid for unlimited 2nd-class travel on national railways and some private lines in 24 countries. You can also pay a supplement if you want to travel 1st-class. Those under 26 receive substantial discounts. See www.eurail.com for all options.
Global Pass Options for travelling 10/15 days within two months (€689/983), or continuous travel for a period from 15 days to one month (€585 to €926).
Eurail Select Pass Allows you to tailor a rail trip in two, three or four of 28 bordering countries (€255 to €418). For Austria, that means Slovenia and Croatia (classed as one Eurail Pass country), the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland.
Two-Country Select Pass Combine Austria with Croatia/Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Switzerland for four or five to 10 days within a two-month period.
Passes are for European citizens (including UK) or anyone who has lived in Europe for at least six months. Those under 26 receive substantial discounts. See www.interrailnet.com for all options.
One-Country Pass Austria Adult 2nd-class three/four/five/eight days within a month €159/191/220/296.
InterRail Global Pass Valid for a certain number of days or continuously in up to 30 countries; five days’ travel in 15 days costs €264, 10 days’ travel in one month costs €374 and one month of continuous travel costs €626.
Bahnhof (Bf) Station
Bahnsteig Track (the track number)
Einfache Fahrt (‘hin’) One-way
Erste Klasse First class
Fahrkarte (Fahrausweis) Ticket
Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) Main station
Speisewagen Dining carriage
Umsteigen Change of trains
Zweite Klasse Second class