VBZ announces billion-franc expansion for Zurich tram network

VBZ announces billion-franc expansion for Zurich tram network

Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich (VBZ) has announced a new massive expansion plan for public transport in and around Zurich. The 2,5-billion franc plan would see the establishment of new connections and expanded services, especially in the north of the city.

VBZ: public transport in Zurich needs to expand fast

In a statement issued on January 23, Zurich city councillor Michael Baumer and VBZ director Marco Lüthi confirmed that tram services in the Zurich region will be expanded significantly over the next few decades. Baumer and Lüthi explained that expected population growth in the north of the city around Oerlikon and in the west along the River Limmat meant that public transport would soon be unable to keep up with demand.

Officials noted that this will likely lead to more drivers and therefore a higher likelihood of traffic jams, something that is already a huge problem in Zurich. This, combined with the fact that the city aims to be net-zero by 2040, led the VBZ to write that Zurich must increase its public transport capacity by “40 percent by 2040 compared to today”, mainly via expanding tram services.

New tram lines to be built to Affoltern and Dübendorf

Alongside planned reforms to the inner-city tram network, the first stage of VBZ’s plan involves a focus on the new tram line between Zurich Oerlikon and Affoltern, expected to be completed around 2030. There are also hopes for a tram line extension from Altried to Wallisellen or Dübendorf, designed to improve connections between the Glatt Valley and Zurich.

Stage one also includes adding a new through service from Stettbach to Affoltern via Oerlikon, to be created once the Affoltern connection is opened. Finally, authorities plan to expand Zurich Altstetten station so that it could cater to more tram lines. 

New tram tunnels and routes planned for northern Zurich

Stage two is more ambitious: to reduce the pressure on services in the inner city, the so-called “inner ring” plan will see a new tram line built between Albisriederplatz and Milchbuck. The line will go via Hardbrücke and then via either Rosengartenstrasse or a new tunnel near Wipkingen train station. “This closes an important network gap,” VBZ explained.

Stage three involves the realisation of an even bigger project - one that was once envisioned as the heart of the “Zurich U-Bahn” project in the 1900s before it was scrapped. By the 2050s, a new tunnel will be built to create a “tram ring” around northern Zurich, running from Zurich HB to Stettbach, then around to Wallisellen, Oerlikon, Affoltern, Altstetten, Hardbrücke and back to HB.

This will be achieved by building a new tram tunnel at Hönggerberg, connecting Oerlikon with Altstetten and “closing the ring.” Stage three also includes a new connection from Seebach to Kloten, the regeneration of Zurich HB and Central, and the construction of depots and garages to house the new trams. Taken together, the expansion plans are set to cost between 1,9 and 2,5 billion francs and will all be complete by the 2050s.

VBZ given the green light to start building

In the statement, Michael Baumer said that the plan “sets the course for Zurich’s mobility of the future and paves the way for the polycentric and prosperous further development of the city.” Unlike other plans, the city council has approved all the projects listed and ordered the VBZ to make them a reality.

For more information, check out the official statement.

Thumb image credit: Markus Mainka /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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