Background: In the course of its review of the 2019 federal financial statements, the Court of Auditors found that ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG had a liability of around 1.147 billion euros from previous years to the federal government in its annual financial statements as of December 31, 2019. This prompted the Court of Auditors to examine “Subsidy contracts for the financing of the rail infrastructure of the ÖBB”.
The ÖBB-Infrastruktur drew up an annual master plan, but this was not approved annually by the Council of Ministers. In this case, the framework plan from the previous period remained valid. The grant contracts were also not concluded annually in the period under review. The consequence: the Ministry of Transport made the payments on the basis of the subsidy contracts concluded in the previous period. The Ministry of Auditors criticizes that the Ministry has regularly based its grant contracts with ÖBB Infrastruktur on excessive planned funding requirements.
Because less was spent than planned, liabilities to the federal government had accumulated by the end of 2019 in the amount of around 1.147 billion euros. These were left in the company free of interest. The Court of Auditors recommended that the Ministry of Transport and Finance actually demand the planned repayments of the outstanding 1.147 billion euros from ÖBB-Infrastruktur. According to the Treasury, a repayment is in progress, reports the Court of Auditors.
The improvement of the safety of the operated rail infrastructure should also be regulated in the grant agreements. If a specified upper limit for security-relevant incidents is exceeded, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG must make a compensation payment to the federal government in accordance with the grant agreement. All security-relevant incidents must be recorded regardless of whether they result in damage.
From 2015 to 2019, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG reported 8,927 security-related incidents. Of these, she was responsible for 15 percent – i.e. 1301 security-related incidents. In ten cases people were harmed, in three cases travelers were affected. Property damage was recorded 713 times. 85 percent of these incidents related to derailments, collisions and the impairment of safe operation due to serious defects in technical equipment and rail vehicles. During the review period, the number of reported security incidents increased. The Court of Auditors recommends developing measures to reduce the number of security incidents. (APA / red.)