The fifth coin in the series "Austrian Railways" to be issued on 17th June, 2009, is dedicated to the electric train. What began as a fair ground attraction in 1880 in the Vienna Prater rapidly became the most revolutionary step in transportation since the harnessing of steam almost a century before.
The first electric train in Austria was a small locomotive circling in the great exhibition pavilion in the Prater on the occasion of the Emperor Franz Joseph's 50th birthday. The same monarch issued a licence two years later in 1882 for the first public electric railway.
It used direct current and was a five kilometer long stretch carrying day-trippers from the country town of Mödling into the popular Brühl valley. Other short branch lines soon followed. The introduction of alternating current proved the most reliable for longer railway lines, and in 1911 electric engines using alternating current were put into service on the 90 kilometer stretch to the pilgrimage centre of Mariazell.
The Austrian Mint has issued the fourth 20 Euro silver commemorative coin within the "Austrian Railways" six silver coin series. The coin is dedicated to the "Empress Elisabeth West Railway" from Vienna to Salzburg, which was constructed between 1856 and 1860. It features locomotive "kkStB 306" steaming across an iron railway bridge and a superbly crafted scene depicting the platform hall of the West Railway Station in Vienna.
In the Austrian Empire the railway lines north to the coalfields and factories of Bohemia or south to the harbour of Trieste and the Adriatic shipping lanes were by far the most important. A railway line from Vienna westwards parallel to the Danube River was of less consequence. However, the Kingdom of Bavaria was very anxious to see such a line between Salzburg and Vienna, which would enable trains from Munich to travel eastwards through Hungary and down to Constantinople. Plans by the government to build such a line were subsequently abandoned in 1856 to a private consortium, the Empress Elisabeth Railway Company.
The Austrian Mint announces the June 11 release of the third 20 Euro silver commemorative coin within the "Austrian Railways" six silver coin series. The maximum mintage 50,000 proof coin highlights the “Belle Époque” period, featuring locomotive "kkStb 310" and an elegant lady walking the platform of the North Railway Station with its glass roofing and cast-iron pillars.
The “Belle Époque” covers the period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a time when trains dominated land travel and reached new heights of comfort and luxury for those classes of society which had the money and time to travel.