New management plan gives World Heritage Semmering Railway a new lease of life

One of the greatest railway engineering feats of the 19th century, the Semmering Railway in central Austria, has been given a new strategy that aims at ensuring its conservation, use, and sustainable development.

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Panorama from the “20 Shilling Viewpoint”, which used to be on the 20 shilling bank note. Panorama from the “20 Shilling Viewpoint”, which used to be on the 20 shilling bank note.

" The Management plan UNESCO World Heritage Semmering Railway is the working paper for further studies and already finalised projects, such as the study of the guardians’ houses, the architecture of the world heritage, a study about the development of the landscape after the completion of the main tunnel, and more. Thanks to the intensive cooperation of the eight municipalities of the Semmering Railway for the creation of the management plan, a good basis was created for the work in the world heritage area Semmering Railway and the surrounding buffer zone. "

Horst Schröttner, Mayor and Chairman of the association Friends of the Semmering Railway

Built between 1848 and 1854 and in use ever since, the Semmering Railway was the first alpine railway of its kind in the world, climbing a vertical height difference of 457 m on a length of 41 km. Due to the architectonic achievements of its 16 viaducts, 15 tunnels, and 100 bridges, and the historical development of the alpine country following its accessibility by rail, the UNESCO has accorded world heritage status to the Semmering Railway in 1998.

The new management plan aims to combine the efforts to maintain the area in line with UNESCO conservation criteria, and to design a concept enabling the sustainable economic and touristic use of the railway as an important connection between the major Austrian cities of Wien and Graz.

It works towards four overarching, future-oriented goals: conserving the historic building structure of the railway line and surrounding buildings; making the areas more accessible as a cultured landscape; protecting the heritage by promoting its sustainable use as a means of transport; and informing the population as well as guests and tourists.

Recommendations for federal, regional, and local authorities

While not a legally binding document, the management plan builds on a cooperation with the federal, regional, and local authorities who are asked to create the legal framework and necessary planning documents to carry out the strategy. The necessary renovations, the development of touristic concepts and offers, and the dissemination of information material will be carried out by public and private partners, including the Austrian Federal Railway (ÖBB).

By defining short-, middle-, and long-term goals, the management plan lays the foundation for preserving this impressive building for future generations while at the same time optimising its use. As part of the Baltic-Adriatic corridor and one of the most important railway lines within Austria, the Semmering Railway will continue to fulfil its vocation of transporting people and goods through the beautiful mountains of Lower Austria.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Management plan World Heritage Semmering Railway” is EUR 48 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 6 000 through the “Lower Austria” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

14/12/2014