A Day on the Westbahn

25 April 2010

Report by Duncan Cotterill


With little activity around Mühldorf on Sundays, I drove across the Austrian border to spend 25 April 2010 on the Westbahn around Weng and Pöndorf, east of Salzburg. This is one of Austria’s principal routes, linking Wien with Salzburg, Innsbruck, Bregenz and München and sees plenty of loco hauled passenger trains and a fair number of freights, even on a Sunday.

This report is divided into two parts: This page contains a summary of the trip. The Day by Day section contains details of each day’s activities, trains seen, travel, hotels etc.

Passenger Trains

There are two long distance passenger trains from Salzburg to Wien each hour, the first train stops only at Linz and St. Polten and usually originates at either Bregenz or München. The second train leaves Salzburg eight minutes later but stops additionally at places like Attnang-Puchheim and Wels, taking around half an hour longer to reach the capital. The München trains were formed of Railjet push-pull sets, with a class 1116 loco at the München end and most continued beyond Wien to Budapest. Some workings were formed of two Railjet sets coupled together, with a second loco in the middle of the formation. The Bregenz trains were hauled by class 1016 or 1116 locos, usually in pairs. The slower trains were hauled by a single class 1016 or 1116 loco, apart from IC640 and IC691 which had a GySEV 1047 on the front. Most of these trains started at Salzburg, although a few ran through from the Innsbruck area or Klagenfurt.

Most of the other passenger services at the Salzburg end of the line are worked by units. There are hourly all-stations trains between Salzburg and Straßwalchen and hourly semi-fasts from Salzburg to Linz or Braunau am Inn on alternate hours. The Braunau trains were worked by class 5047 railcars and the Straßwalchen and Linz trains by class 4024 EMUs, with one exception; train R3022, the 16:01 from Linz, was formed of a class 1116 coupled to the wrong end of a push-pull set.

There was also a westbound steam special behind a bunker first 78.618 in the morning and a long westbound train of empty coaches hauled by a class 2016 diesel in the evening.

Freight Traffic

I saw ten freights during the ten hours I was near the line, although four of these ran during the final hour. Traffic was almost a 50/50 split between car carriers and general freight, with a single RoLa to provide variety. Motive power was either a class 1016 or 1116 on all but one train, which had an Adria Transport 1216 on the front and a second Taurus (silver but I didn’t get the number) coupled mid-train.


My last visit to the main line east of Salzburg was almost 10 years ago, when 1142s and 1144s predominated and 1010s and 1110s were still fairly common on freights. I wondered how many locations would have become overgrown in the meantime but was pleasantly surprised to find every spot was still clear of vegetation. I started off at Weng then moved on to the bridge at Hilgertsheim, a short distance to the east, in mid morning. During the afternoon, I continued east to Pöndorf, between Straßwalchen and Vocklamarkt. The weather remained sunny throughout although it was never really clear enough to see the distant mountains behind Pöndorf.


Although the line was busy and there were some excellent locations, the endless stream of Taurii became tedious after a while and the only excitement came in the form of the GySEV and Adria locos in different liveries.

Why the Bregenz trains needed two 8000hp engines isn’t at all clear. They were a respectable length but a single powerful loco should have been more than capable of coping on the relatively easy gradients east of Innsbruck. The other thing that confused me was the number of trains that never left Austria but were still classed as EuroCity.

All the locations I visited would have been accessible by rail and on foot. Weng is served by the hourly Salzburg - Straßwalchen locals and the two-hourly Salzburg - Linz trains stop at Pöndorf. On weekdays there are additional Steindorf bei Straßwalchen - Linz trains, connecting with the Salzburg - Braunau trains and also calling at Pöndorf. Hilgertsheim is a bit further from the nearest station but still walkable from Weng.

This report is divided into two parts: This page contains a summary of the trip. The Day by Day section contains details of each day’s activities, trains seen, travel, hotels etc.