Switzerland debates connecting Basel and London with new rail route
A new plan has been submitted to the Swiss government which would see Basel and London connected with a new direct rail route. The national councillor behind the proposal, Matthias Aebischer, has said that it will be easy to set up, fast running and more environmentally friendly than flying.
New plan to connect Switzerland and the UK by rail
According to 20 Minuten, Aebischer has submitted a postulate to the Federal Council and President, demanding they look into expanding the Swiss public transport network to include a direct service between Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The route would allow passengers to travel between London and Basel without having to change trains.
Aebischer told the newspaper that in recent years, Swiss railway firms and cities have worked together to expand international rail routes - especially in the form of new night train services to places like Amsterdam and Prague. He argued that a Basel to London rail route should be the next big project as it would connect two entrepreneurial and business hubs, and allow for easier onward travel from the UK through the Swiss mountains to Italy.
Rail line between Basel and London would be easy to create
The national councillor made the point that the new route would be easy to create as the line, technically, already exists. After leaving Switzerland, the train would go to Strasbourg, France before joining the Eurotunnel line north of Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport. It is hoped that the journey between Basel and London St. Pancras will take five hours and 30 minutes - about as long as it takes to go to the airport, take a flight to London and get into the centre of the city.
While he admitted that his aim was to reduce carbon emissions by making flights between Basel and London obsolete - there are between 10 and 12 flights between the two every day - he said the route must allow travellers to “reach their destination as directly as possible." "Given that the journey time would only be 5,5 hours and that the trains would arrive directly in central London, this link would be extremely attractive and competitive with existing air links," Aebischer argued.
Supporters await the decision of the Swiss transport minister
Finally, he said that the train service could be installed quickly: "It costs little and all you have to do is set up customs controls on board, like when travelling from Brig (Valais) to Domodossola (Italy)." "I am therefore awaiting a proposal from our new Minister of Transport, Albert Rösti," he concluded.
Image: Shutterstock.com / GERARD BOTTINO