Rail link project between Austria and Italy promotes transnational, sustainable and eco-friendly mobility

A pilot cross-border rail line, MI.CO.TRA (MIglioramento dei COllegamenti TRAnsfrontalieri), now links Udine in Italy with Villach in Austria, providing a much needed connection between the two towns and bringing economic, social and environmental benefits.

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The MI.CO.TRA train. The MI.CO.TRA train.

Aiming at a modal shift from the street to the rail in the area, the project has led to an increase in sustainable mobility and a reduction in CO2 emissions. It has also brought benefits in terms of socio-economic development and increased cohesion between the partner regions Friuli Venezia Giulia and Carinthia. Launched in June 2012, MI.CO.TRA has brought the first rail connection between the towns since the international EuroCity train service was cancelled several years ago.

Thanks to the new rail line, tourist numbers at various historic and archaeological sites across the region have risen. These include Palmanova and Venzone. The tourists also appreciate that they are permitted to travel with their bicycles, or skis in winter, on the train.

Strong passenger numbers and socio-economic benefits

The sustainability of the project is demonstrated by impressive passenger numbers with, for example, a daily average of 4 614 people travelling between June 2012 and February 2013. During August, this figure typically increases to 6 964. Sunday is the busiest day by far with some 6 520 passengers recorded on average.

The trains have an excellent punctuality record with delays a rare occurrence. For example in August 2012, 99.19 % of the trains were on time. The first train departs from Udine at 7.00, with a second leaving at 17.15. The return legs depart Villach at 9.40 and 19.29 respectively.

Italian rail company Ferrovie Udine-Cividale provides the engine for the train, while the Österreichische Bundes Bahn (ÖBB) furnishes the carriages. The two companies jointly manage the project.

Project extended

The pilot project was extended beyond June 2013, its planned end date. Moving forward, the team plans to extend the line to Trieste and Klagenfurt. With more people taking the train, it is hoped that this project will contribute to a marked reduction in CO2 emissions from cars in the region.

The project has created three short term jobs aboard the actual train.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “MI.CO.TRA” is EUR 1 405 000 of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 749 970 from the Operational Programme “Interreg IV A Italy–Austria”, for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

12/12/2014