Friends of the southern line

And what kind of noise protection do you have?

When tunnels are dug, routes are raised and stations and freight terminals are built, locals and neighbours want to be informed.

Will the terrain be lowered or raised? How many trees will be cleared? What’s happening to Rosiwal street? At the round table for the Freight Centre Vienna South project on the outskirts of Vienna, for which the first tracks have been laid, 15, 20 people kept meeting: men and women from the neighbourhood, representatives of the city, district leaders from Favoriten and Liesing, speakers from allotment clubs and the citizen’s initiative ‘Stop Mega City Rothneusiedl’ met the ÖBB planners. From May 2010 to February 2011 the group met almost every month.

All parties were heard

Wishes were laid on the table, concerns were discussed and ideas were gathered. Twice, excursions were taken to other freight terminals, to the Freudenau Danube port and the Vienna central marshalling yard and to the ÖBB Logistics Centre in Linz. A freight centre with halls, workshops, office buildings, accesses and tracks is a big project, a meeting point of agriculture and living space. ÖBB-Infrastruktur presents this dimension in their construction plans in a dialogue with the people. All parties must be heard - this is demanded by the legal railway requirements and the requirements of the environmental compatibility test. Lots of suggestions were made for the project.

List of requirements: fences, walls, green

After ’hard but businesslike’ discussions, some measures were taken to adapt the new goods transfer point between Petersbach, Liesingbach and Schrebergärten between the green Favoriten district of Rothneusiedl and the expanding Vienna farmers’ fields. Walls were built up - against noise, especially against wind and also for visual protection. Hills and meadows were laid out, trees and hedges on the east side of the freight centre, for example, and also inside the system or on access roads. The locals also spoke up for lower lampposts than originally planned and they were able to carry through in terms of site exits; these were not created on Rosiwal street. They even reduced the terminal’s distribution list in the construction plan and had it moved a little further south. This dialogue around the table made it possible.

A 170 person work forum

The discussions in the planning phases of the Semmering Base Tunnel led to similar compromises. A work forum was created, which met every three months. Up to 170 people took part - representatives from the country, state and communities, from interest groups and citizen’s initiatives, experts and ÖBB delegates. Things that seemed unmanageable to begin with were gradually brought down to a common denominator. Route variations were debated and assessed by experts. But when the selected route was announced in 2008, everyone was together: now it was all about the construction process, what could be made easier, how and when, which protective measures were good. And it was decided that the wider public should be informed step by step - using ‘info boxes’ on the tunnel portals, ‘info glimpses’ at the Styrian Fröschnitzgraben and in the Lower Austrian Göstritz and on the ‘construction site open day’.