A sustainable future

Wiener Linien operates Vienna’s entire local public transport network, thereby contributing to the city’s excellent quality of life. The focus here is on striking a sustainable balance between social responsibility, commercial success and environmental interests.

Conserving resources, reducing energy consumption, cutting CO2 emissions – the less energy we use for transport, the more energy we have to put into developing new ideas. After all, it is the combination of many small steps that makes a sustainable future possible. However, no matter what, there is no doubt in Wiener Linien’s mind that environmentally-friendly urban mobility is the key to future quality of life in the city – and this is on track(s).

Every journey on public transport pays dividends

This why we continually invest in the network, shorten intervals, extend existing lines and create new connections. This pays dividends – for passengers and for the environment. Individuals who switch to public transport save up to 1,500 kg of CO2 emissions every year.

Specifically, the rising number of passengers using public transport has already translated into 130 gigawatt-hours of fossil energy from road traffic being saved every year. This corresponds to the energy needs of a small town such as Judenburg or Kitzbühel.

Fact sheet: Sustainability

Modernisation helps save energy

Wiener Linien started to modernise its bus fleet in 2013, with a primary focus on environmental aspects. The first modernisation phase will be completed in 2016 and has already yielded very satisfactory results: The fleet’s annual energy requirements have been cut by a fifth thanks to the deployment of around 200 new buses.

Similarly, the current tendering process places considerable emphasis on energy efficiency, low emissions that are significantly lower than the Euro 6 standard, commercial viability and high levels of passenger comfort. A further 53 normal buses, 84 articulated buses, 62 XL articulated buses (20 metres long) with around 20 percent more space and up to seven large e-buses will breathe new life into the fleet between now and the end of 2019.

Every step counts

The more people who leave their car at home, or forgo having one at all, and use public transport instead, the better the city’s energy balance will be. Only five percent of the city’s total energy consumption for mobility is attributable to Wiener Linien. This means that public transport makes up just one percent of the city’s carbon footprint, despite the fact that 39 percent of all journeys in Vienna are made by public transport.

Nevertheless, we are continually searching for new means to become even more efficient and sustainable. There is potential to make savings everywhere. After all, Wiener Linien needs around 700 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy every year to keep the city moving – comparable to the entire energy consumption of a town the size of St. Pölten.

  • Hot: A number of underground stations and service buildings are equipped with geothermal heat pumps – a pilot project that won the Transport state award in 2008. We also design underground stations with sustainability in mind, making additional use of the residual heat produced by computers in the technical rooms.
  • Clean: 17 vehicle-washing facilities ensure that buses, trams and underground trains shine. In order to reduce water consumption, all of these facilities have been equipped with their own treatment systems. 90 percent of the water used during a wash – nearly 3,000 litres or 10 to 12 full bathtubs – can therefore be recycled and used again.
  • Bright: The days of old fluorescent tubes are numbered. Today, energy-saving LED bulbs set the tone in vehicles and at stations. Around 9,600 fluorescent tubes on underground platforms have already been replaced and now consume half as much energy, while still providing the same amount of light. This alone has enabled energy savings of around 1.5 GWh a year, which corresponds to the electricity consumption of more than 430 Viennese households.
  • Aware: Conscientious driving helps save both fuel and energy – this applies just as much to public transport as it does to private cars. Raising awareness and teaching how to drive in an energy-efficient manner are therefore integral parts of driver training courses.
  • Quick: Energy/fuel displays are now fitted as standard in our new vehicles. On the underground, the speed of trains is also optimised by computer. If trains are too close to each other, or one is too early, the speed is automatically reduced. This saves energy and ensures that trains are more evenly spaced.
  • Modern: In contrast to buses, rail-bound vehicles have very long lifespans and remain in service for around 35 years. This makes it all the more important to modernise them during maintenance work. We also learn through research projects such as ‘EcoTram’ (in German) where we can fine-tune our vehicles.

Mini ‘power plants’ on tracks

Whether it be trams or the underground – almost all of Wiener Linien’s rail-bound vehicles are already mini ‘power plants’. The energy that is released when braking is fed back into the network so that other vehicles nearby are able to use this energy when approaching.

The second-generation of the ‘silver arrows’ (underground trains), the U6 low-floor carriages and the ULF trams are already equipped with the necessary technology at the factory. Wiener Linien has since retrofitted the first-generation of silver arrows and some of the older high-floor trams.

Pilot project: Braking trains provide lighting at stations

This is good and helps us save energy. Since autumn 2016, we have been testing a pilot system on the underground network to make even better use of braking energy in the future: a so-called inverter is used to convert the underground’s direct current into alternating current, enabling it to be fed into Wiener Linien’s medium-voltage network. Braking trains can then also indirectly keep lifts and escalators moving and ensure that stations have enough lighting.


Bringing e-mobility from the rails to the road

Around 85 percent of public transport users already benefit from e-mobility with the tram and the underground. However, Vienna is also leading the way when it comes to services with e-buses: Two lines (2A and 3A) have already been equipped with a unique charging system unlike anything else in the world and are operated entirely using electricity. The buses can travel 150 kilometres with one charge, clearly demonstrating the potential of e-mobility.

In 2013, Wiener Linien won the state prize for mobility in the category ‘Planning. Building. Operating’. The eight-metre-long city bus also had its debut before an international audience: it took the participants of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna to the opening ceremony.

Now, Wiener Linien is looking to get even longer: up to seven twelve-metre-long e-buses have already been put out to tender. This will soon make Vienna the first European city to have large e-buses operating regular services and enable the city to completely convert another line. Vienna is a model green city, thereby making a key contribution to further technological development in the area of public transport.

Public transport is a master of efficiency

While the transport network needs to keep pace with a growing city, one thing remains constant: the space available. Vienna’s urban area makes up around 41,500 hectares or 7,000 football fields, six percent of which is used by individual transport, while public transport takes up just one percent. And this is despite the fact that 39 percent of all journeys in Vienna are already made by public transport (car: 27 percent).

The ratio of people taken from A to B compared to the space used shows how efficiently the available space is being used. Vienna’s public transport system has a clear lead here and is four times as efficient as individual transport. The underground is the key to success: it is extremely efficient in terms of the space used, and is even 20 times more efficient than a car.

Therefore, more public transport also means more space for living. If you pause to consider a situation in which all journeys in Vienna are made by public transport alone, the amount of space that could be saved becomes clear: around 500 hectares could then be used for other activities. This corresponds to around 77 times the area of the Stadtpark. By way of comparison: The Sports Department of the City of Vienna (MA51) manages 363 hectares of sporting facilities. Conversely, if all of Vienna travelled solely by car, the amount of space required for traffic would need to increase three-fold.