Westbahnhof, Vienna

Wien Westbahnhof (Vienna West Station, or Vienna Western Station) is a major Austrian railway station, the starting point of the West railway (Westbahn) for trains to Salzburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Zürich, Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade, etc. As well as long-distance routes, local trains (S-Bahn-line  S50 ) and two underground (U-Bahn) lines reach the Westbahnhof ( U3  and  U6 ). Six streetcar lines converge on the Europaplatz in front of the station, of which none go into the city center.


The Westbahnhof is in Vienna's 15th District Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus on the Gürtel inner-city traffic artery. The southward-running Mariahilfer Street provides a direct route into the center of the city.


The Westbahnhof is, with the Südbahnhof (south station) one of the two large Viennese train stations and as such the point of departure for trains to Germany, Poland, and beyond to France and Belgium, among other places. Via the Speisinger Connector, there is also connection to Hungary, Serbia, and Romania in the east and southeast. Because it is a terminus station, Westbahn trains going on to Hungary must leave the station backwards and reverse to continue on.

At the same time, the Westbahnhof is the departure point for regional rail lines into the west of Vienna that are included in the Eastern Regional Traffic Authority and belong in part to the Viennese S-Bahn.

With the establishment of the long-planned Hauptbahnhof (main station), the Westbahnhof will lose some of its significance, since international trains, above all those that go on to Eastern Europe, will then be routed through a connecting tunnel under the Lainzer Zoo, which is already under construction, directly to the Zentralbahnhof. At this time, a reduction in the station's size is to be expected and concepts for the utilization of the surplus space are already being solicited.

1858 to 1949

Connected with the western railway (originally called k.k. privilegierte Kaiserin-Elisabeth-Bahn), the station was designed by the train-station architect Moritz Löhr and opened in 1858. The facility was made up of four sections built in a historical style.

The main hall was 104 meters long and originally 27.2 meters wide. It was covered by a beamed iron awning and provided space for four tracks. Intervening peninsular platforms were not yet available. The exit from the hall was flanked by two towers. On the east, a two-story administration building separated the trackage from the Gürtel.

The side wings included the provisions for arrivals and departures. The southerly departure side consisted of an ornamented portal with steps and three large arches supported by columns, that were crowned with statues. Access passages to the left and right of these led to the two two-story office buildings. Through this portal, one entered the ticket hall and the departure platform. On slightly elevated terrain, the departure side offered the most impressive view of the station from the southeast. This motif was repeated in the northerly arrival side; however because of the grade, the building's foundation was lower and the portal not built up as high, as arcades offered passengers who were waiting for carriages or carts protection from the elements.

In order to deal with the increased number of passengers, the two towers that flanked the departure gate were moved further apart in a modification that lasted from 1910 to 1912. The roof construction was also changed and space for a fifth track was attained. In addition, further covered platforms and departure tracks were provided in the foreground of the tracks in the terminal proper.

In April 1945 the station was hit by bombs and burnt down in the course of battles attending the end of World War II; the roof of the gallery collapsed. After the end of the war, the buildings were by necessity adapted for the needs of rail travel, but a complete reconstruction was decided upon, so the station was torn down in 1949.

A statue from the original facade of the station of the namesake of the original railway Empress Elisabeth still recalls the old station in the lower hall of the new Westbahnhof.

Since 1949

The rebuilt Westbahnhof designed by Architects Hartiger & Wöhnhart opened in 1952. Because only narrow administration wings were built on the sides, space was available for eleven tracks in all, accessed from covered peninsular platforms.

The centerpiece of the rebuilt Westbahnhof is the large hall giving on to the Gürtel (Europaplatz), which is divided into a lower and an upper level that is reached by two flights of stairs and escalators. The hall is lighted by high windows that are built into the east and west facades above the platform overhangs. The ticket windows are installed beneath the upper hall. Later on, a pavilion was built in the lower hall that offered a service center for bookings, hotel reservations and the like. In the 1980s a parking garage was erected on the north side of the station.

The Westbahnhof, with its half-timbered roof construction, enjoys protected-monument status.

In the course of building the U3 subway line, a large new steel and glass construction was built in 1993, which accommodates some of the station's restaurants and a cafe on several levels. The underground passage to the subway stations can be reached from the lower level.

Various businesses catering to travelers are on both levels of the hall (supermarket, tobacco and newsstands, Internet cafe, post office, copy center, snack shops, flower shops, barber shop, etc.). The originally provided police station was officially closed on April 26, 2006 because further use of the police station was not reasonable in the aftermath of infestation of vermin.

September 2008 - Fall 2011

As of mid-September 2008 a series of undertakings have commenced at Wien West, including the renovation of the listed ticket hall, the removal of the expensive, redundant flag poles outside of the station (which were placed too closely next to one another to ever carry flags), and the construction of new buildings to the left and right of the main hall, all of which are part of the new BahnhofCity project. To the left, above the park on the corner of Mariahilfer Straße and Neubaugürtel, an office building with a large atrium, on the other side another modern office complex with integrated hotel are being constructed. The plan includes space for roughly 100 shops and various restaurants.

During this construction period the entire ticket hall and the Europaplatz in front of it have been shut down. A provisional station has been created to the left of the main hall so that the station may remain in operation. Austrian Federal Railway (31 October 2008). "Umbau Wien Westbahnhof" (in German). http://www.oebb.at/bau/de/Projekte_Planung_und_Bau/Grossraum_Wien/Umbau_Wien_Westbahnhof/index.jsp. Retrieved 29 November 2008.