Rail journey times to be slashed between Swiss cities
Rail times between different Swiss cities are set to be slashed after the National Council accepted two motions designed to reduce inter-city journey times. Modifications will now be made to rail infrastructure in order to cut journey times between Lausanne and Bern and between Winterthur and St. Gallen.
First major infrastructure investment in 40 years
The approval of the motions means Switzerland’s railways could see major infrastructure investment - something it hasn't had for 40 years, according to 20 minuten. "These infrastructure projects are of paramount importance for the strengthening of national cohesion and interregional socio-economic development", the Transport Commission told the newspaper.
"But no significant investment has been undertaken for more than 40 years, [despite] the [government] having always supported the desire to put Lausanne less than an hour from Bern and St. Gallen less than an hour from Zurich", the organisation added.
The first motion orders the Federal Council to create a plan to make the project a reality by 2026, or by latest the end of the decade. The second motion passed by the National Council called for the rapid completion of the project, ideally in line with Switzerland’s Rail 2050 railway improvement strategy.
Journey times will be reduced by investing in new rail infrastructure
Authorities hope to reduce journey times by investing in rail infrastructure that can support faster journeys - i.e making the track straighter. "Where elsewhere, we took advantage of correcting curves and removing speed dips, here, the route has retained the geometry of its initial construction", the Transport Commission explained. "The speed of the InterCity is therefore significantly lower than the other main lines."
Not everyone is happy with the plan though. Representatives from other Swiss cantons, such as Aargau Swiss People's Party representative Ulrich Giezendanner, feel the costs associated with investing in public transport are too high, especially at a time of economic uncertainty. Despite the opposition, both motions were able to pass successfully - the National Council accepted the first motion by 145 votes to 34 and the second by 126 to 47. This now means that Switzerland’s upper house, the Council of States must sign off on the plans.