Austria and Germany have arranged to reopen a vital rail link that was closed in September to slow the passage of tens of thousands of migrants, Austrian rail operator OeBB said, but passengers will have to go through border checks.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Afghanistan, have entered Austria since early September. The vast majority of them continued their journey to their favored destination, Germany.
A spokesman for OeBB said a more manageable flow of migrants and better systems in place at the border had made it possible to resume intercity services between the Austrian city of Salzburg and Munich in southern Germany.
As of Friday, trains will run from Budapest and Vienna to Munich, but passengers will still need to change trains in Salzburg, where German officials will carry out checks, OeBB said. Intercity trains now end in Salzburg, forcing travelers to switch to local trains for the onward journey.
“We will have to see how it goes on Friday and whether there are really no serious delays,” an OeBB spokesman said of the new system being put in place to ensure services could resume.
Trains to Austria from Munich will run without passengers having to change in Salzburg, OeBB said.
The first arrivals in the wave of refugees that began in early September crossed into Austria from Hungary and were generally taken across the country and through Salzburg by train onward to Germany.
Since then, the main route for migrants travelling through the Balkans and towards Germany has shifted from Hungary into Slovenia. Those reaching Austria now are usually shuttled across the country by bus and spread across a larger number of crossings into Germany, making Salzburg less of a focal point.
A police spokeswoman said arrivals in Salzburg had been roughly unchanged in recent weeks and estimated the number of migrants who arrived on Wednesday at 600.