updated on 24th Oct 2023 16:45 posted on 13th Oct 2023 08:49
On 11 October 2023 CAT (City Airport Train) of Wien has ordered three five-car KISS EMUs from Stadler, which will connect Vienna International Airport with the city centre from 2027. The KISSes will have a top speed of 200 km/h, will be fitted with the ETCS Level 2 OBU and will offer 300 comfortable seats, sufficient storage areas for luggage and wider aisles. This order came at a time when CAT is celebrating 20 years of its existence - the start of operations on this approximately 20 km long route took place on 14 December 2003.
In February 2002, the City Air Terminal Betriebsgesellschaft m. b. H. was founded to operate the new system, with ÖBB-Personenverkehr AG (49.9 %) and Flughafen Wien AG (50.1 %) as shareholders. Trains run every half hour from early morning until around midnight (36 trips per direction per day). Currently, more than 4,000 passengers daily use CAT services; over the whole period there have been around 20 million passengers. In financial year 2019, 1.7 million passengers were carried, 3 % more than in 2018. However, CAT trains did not run from 3 March 2020 to 28 March 2022 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
CAT currently has three push-pull trains, one of which is held as a reserve, which in standard formation consist of three double-decker intermediate cars and a Class 80-33 driving trailer (Nos. 900 to 903), with a total seating capacity of 243. The trains were originally operated by Class 1014 locomotives (005, 007, 010) in green-grey-white livery, which were replaced in December 2005 by Tauruses 1116 141 and 142, again in CAT corporate livery, due to breakdowns. These were then replaced in November 2012 with single-voltage machines 1016 014, 016 and 036.
CAT currently has 41 employees, formed by administrative staff, sales staff and train attendants (the driver's are from ÖBB, as are the locomotives). Now, as an important complement to Wien as a tourist destination and an integral part of mobility policy in Austria's eastern region, CAT is preparing for the future with new trains. CAT's Managing Directors Michael Forstner and Christoph Korherr explain: "The KISSes will be adapted to the needs of air passengers - they will have ample luggage storage space, wider aisles and first class with extra-wide seats. In addition, they will feature a separate area for baggage checked in at the CAT City Check-In system. This increase in capacity is in response to a steady increase in the number of passengers who appreciate the convenience of airport expresses and travel times of just 16 minutes. The double-deck design for which CAT is known will be retained."
Many other services such as free luggage lockers, free Wi-Fi and the presence of CAT Train Attendants round off the offer, as does the free CAT City Check-In service when boarding at Wien Mitte station. The most recent investment ever made was the renovation of this particular terminal in 2017 - 2018, where the check-in area has been extensively renovated and redesigned. The City Check-In area is currently being equipped with new self-service check-in machines which offer even more intuitive handling.
All of this, together with a 98 % punctuality rate, is reflected in a customer satisfaction rate of more than 97 %, as shown in a survey conducted in September 2023, according to which the recommendation rate for CAT trains to others is 91 %. On 14 December, CAT will celebrate its 20th birthday with its passengers in the Wien Mitte terminal.
Financing of the KISSes will be secured partly by the company‘s own funds, partly by external funds. Following their delivery the number of daily services will retain the same, the trains operating every 30 minutes, with a transport time of 16 minutes. After delivery of KISSes it will be decided if the present rakes will be used elsewhere in the Austrian network (the cars have to be refurbished for standard passenger service). For Tauruses there will easily be found any suitable working on other ÖBB services.
We asked CAT, what a sense have the airport trains with a maximum speed of 200 km/h, when in Wien there will be no such high speed in the (near) future. The company answered us: "With our new trains, we want to be prepared for the future. Currently there are no expansion plans, but on the track connection to Bratislava, 200 km/h would be possible. For this reason, the KISSes will be dual-voltage 15 + 25 kV."
After the order from ÖBB for 14 six-car KISS EMUs for railjet with a maximum speed of 200 km/h, which was signed on 6 July 2023, this is the second long-distance version of the KISS 200s for Austria (which follows the regional version of the KISS for ÖBB).