Transport policy is a key field of action of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (abbr. BMK). Austria’s railways are indispensable for a sustainable, climate-neutral, safe, social and economically-compatible mobility system.
In this regard, provisions for planning and building permission and design certification, the regulation of the rail market and operating licences for railway installations, among others, fall within the competence of the BMK. The latter also concerns the securing, structural redevelopment and removal of the level crossings. Furthermore, the BMK handles the design certification and operating licences for vehicles and issues, extends, amends or withdraws transport authorisations, safety certificates and safety authorisations.
The BMK supervises subordinate authorities in its own field of action and works in a targeted manner with the European Union Agency for Railways and other (foreign) authorities. This is particularly important in, for example, issues of European Union law and in the case of interstate agreements regarding the railways.
The Ministry also addresses general technical questions regarding the construction, securing and maintenance of the railways. It handles domestic and international technical standards and specifications as well as other guidelines on the state of the art and is involved in affairs of legislative processes, accreditation and research.
The Agency for Passenger Rights
The Agency for Passenger Rights (abbr. Apf) offers an independent, simple and free service of the BMK for rail, bus, ship and air transport. Its task is to help passengers to obtain justice if no agreement was able to be reached with the transport company in a dispute. As the arbitration body, the Agency for Passenger Rights ensures fast and binding solutions and compensation.
Promotion and financing
Targeted support helps to further develop Austria’s railways in a future-oriented manner. According to the Private Railways Act 2004 (Privatbahngesetz 2004, abbr. PrivbG), the BMK can grant financing contributions for infrastructure investments and infrastructure maintenance measures on Austrian territory.
A financing contract on railway infrastructure applies between the BMK and ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG. Contracts between regional authorities and railway infrastructure companies on subsidies or financing contributions for railway infrastructure must be published on the website of the authority that concluded the contract within one month of the conclusion of contract for the entire contract period.
According to EU legal requirements and national requirements, railway companies must ensure safe operation independently. According to section 19 of the Railways Act 1957 (Eisenbahngesetz 1957, abbr. EisbG), measures can be prescribed to ensure the safety of the operation of a railway or the operation of rail vehicles by the authority. The contents of such orders are made available on the website of the BMK if they are of a general character. This means that they are addressed to an entire division, such as to all railway infrastructure companies or to all railway undertakings.
Safety at level crossings
The BMK, the Austrian Road Safety Board and the Austrian Federal Railways are jointly committed to greater safety at level crossings. At the beginning of June every year, the International Level Crossing Awareness Day takes place. It is intended to raise awareness of the proper conduct at level crossings. Although safety is increasing overall, ten to 20 people are also killed in accidents at level crossings in Austria every year.
In many states, programmes are therefore running to remove level crossings and to improve the safety devices and the recognisability of level crossings. In addition to increased monitoring, awareness-raising measures to reduce accidents at level crossings are necessary.
Here it should be noted: Be even more careful when crossing level crossings. This also applies at secured level crossings with crossing lights. Accidents can have serious consequences. Please make sure that it is possible to cross the tracks safely at every level crossing. At secured level crossings with crossing lights and at railway barriers, it is also crucial to take certain precautions even if the warning light is switched off or the barriers are open: Look to the left and right, pay attention to noises and choose a speed at which you can stop reliably if a train approaches.
In general: Do not cross without checking!