Agglo’s greatest potential: This is how the Federal Council wants to expand the railway by 2050
The Federal Council innovates in transport policy. When expanding the railway, he no longer wants to focus on long-distance traffic, but on the agglomeration. Proposals are under discussion.
Far from long-distance traffic to urban areas: the Federal Council is reorienting the rail strategy. Until now, eliminating bottlenecks and increasing frequency have had top priority in the long-term strategy for rail expansion. But now, the offer for short and medium distances in particular must be improved, for example with additional S-Bahn offers in built-up areas. The Federal Council decided on Wednesday: The proposals for the Bahn 2050 perspective are being discussed with interested parties.
With the new direction, the Federal Council wants to achieve a lasting solution. Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga spoke to the media in Bern on Wednesday on “new paths in transport policy”. The greatest potential lies in urban areas, where 85% of employees now work. Sommaruga: “We want to expand where the railways have some catching up to do.” It pays off for the people and the climate.
Passenger carrying capacity to be increased by 45%
In concrete terms, this translates into increased S-Bahn traffic nationwide, more frequent stops for InterRegio and Regioexpress trains in suburban stations and new diametral and tangential lines in built-up areas. In long-distance traffic, expansion should mainly take place where rail is not competitive with road in terms of travel time. The Federal Council is making efforts to reduce driving times in certain areas.
By 2050, the Federal Council wants to increase the number of kilometers traveled per person on public transport by 45%. The transfer of freight traffic to rail must also be extended. There are new transshipment platforms in freight transportation.
The rail network reaches its load limit
The expansion is a major challenge for the road network, which is already heavily used today. Sommaruga also said the steps had to be carefully measured. As part of the “Future Development of Railway Infrastructure” (ZEB) program, around 300 projects worth 25 billion francs are planned by 2035. This “enormous scale” is in addition to maintenance work and leads to many projects, underlined Sommaruga:
“To keep this sustainable, there are delays of up to five years for some projects.”
All the projects that have been decided have been funded and will be implemented, assured Sommaruga. However, for capacity reasons, there will only be further extensions on the SBB main network from 2033.
Federal Council wants continuous two-track Lötschberg base tunnel
In addition, the Federal Council has decided to make various adjustments to the already planned expansion stages in the sense of “rolling planning”. One of the biggest changes is the complete expansion of the Lötschberg base tunnel. Until now, only a partial extension was planned. However, the Federal Council now wants a continuous extension of the tunnel to two lanes by 2035.
On the one hand, it would avoid a total closure of the tunnel for eight months, Sommaruga told the media. On the other hand, additional capabilities can be created and operational stability increased. Ultimately, this means additional costs of 330 million francs. In a press release, the government council of the canton of Bern said it was “satisfied” with the planned expansion.
Additional credits of 720 million Swiss francs are needed
Other adaptations concern the Brüttener tunnel (Zurich-Winterthur axis), the Zimmerberg base tunnel (Zurich-Zug axis), Stadelhofen station and the Geneva junction. According to the Federal Council, this requires an additional 720 million francs. However, the additional expenditure is covered by the rail infrastructure fund and does not have to be compensated by reduced expenditure on other projects.