Plans for new night train network to connect Swiss and European cities
The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (SP) has unveiled a plan that would create new high-speed and night train routes between top European destinations and Swiss cities. As a response to the disruption at airports and airlines in Switzerland, the scheme would connect places like London and Zurich by rail for the first time.
High-speed rail connections planned between Swiss cities and Europe
In its new “Rail-to-Europe” strategy paper, the SP called on the government to set up new high-speed and night train routes between major Swiss cities and holiday destinations across Europe. The expansion of public transport in Switzerland is designed to counter "the current unbearable flight chaos," which they say "shows that [Switzerland] has to drastically improve the rail service in order to guarantee reliable, comfortable and environmentally friendly travel."
The plan is to provide "direct high-speed trains during the day to key destinations in Europe." European cities like Barcelona, Bordeaux, Marseille, Rome, Naples and Venice would all receive new direct connections to Zurich, Bern, Basel and Geneva.
Night train routes between Zurich and London, Copenhagen and Berlin
The new high-speed lines would be supplemented by new night train routes to some of the larger and more distant cities in Europe. This would include new night trains between Swiss cities and Berlin, Hamburg, Brussels, Warsaw, Copenhagen and London. All the new services would be up and running by 2027.
When asked about who would use such a service, National Councillor Matthias Aebischer noted, "Anyone who can get on the train with their family in Zurich or Bern, that can sit comfortably until Marseille, will be happy to take the train instead of the plane… If we want to manage travel and achieve our climate goals, we have no choice but to organise a European rail connection network."
SP confident the plan will be accepted by Swiss parliament
Ueli Stückelberger, Director of the Swiss Association of Public Transport, said “the plan is absolutely the right direction.” He explained there was "huge potential" for profitable international rail travel, which should make the idea more appealing to lawmakers.
The SP has now submitted the paper to Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who will discuss the scheme with other council members. However, if the plan is rejected, the SP say they are confident that they will receive majority support from parliament, and failing that, from the public in a referendum.