Austrians pull out of ambitious broad-gauge railway project

Experts previously warned it was Russia's attempt to strengthen its influence in western Europe.

A Ukrainian train passes though the x-ray scanner at Maťovce.A Ukrainian train passes though the x-ray scanner at Maťovce. (Source: TASR)

The broad-gauge railway will not be extended across Slovakia anytime soon. The ambitious project, which would have complicated the position of Košice's unique position as the terminal of the broad-gauge railroad, has been abandoned for now.

The Austrian railway company ÖBB has officially withdrawn from the project, leaving its shares to Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia, the Railfreight.com website wrote.

The project of continuing the broad-gauge railway to Vienna harbored the ambition of connecting eastern European markets in a direct link to Asian markets.

Austria would have gained many macroeconomic advantages – creating approximately 127,500 annual jobs and an additional profit of €16 billion. However, Slovakia had not been so willing to approve of this project. The Košice-Vienna route would have threatened Košice’s position, ceasing thousands of jobs.

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“I'm not inclinded towards this idea. I always wonder what Slovakia would gain from it. The unloading area would then be in Vienna instead of Košice. So, the Viennese would be the only ones to benefit,” Ivo Nesrovnal, then mayor of Bratislava, told Wiener Zeitung in a 2015 interview.

Experts saw the project as, among other things, an attempt by Russia to extend its influence in western Europe.

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