Switzerland - Articles and news items

A new railway for the longest rail tunnel in the world

Issue 4 2016 / 25 July 2016 /

On 1 June 2016 an exciting new chapter was added to the Gotthard story. With the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland made railway history with a once-in-a-century construction project that embodies the innovation and competitiveness that makes the country the envy of Europe. For European Railway Review Head of SBB Infrastructure, Philippe Gauderon, reflects on this major project and highlights the benefits renewed passenger and freight operations will bring to the Gotthard region…

Construction completed on the world’s longest railway tunnel

Issue 4 2016 / 25 July 2016 /

Following 17 years of construction, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel was ceremonially opened on 1 June 2016. Measuring 57km-long it is not only the world’s longest railway tunnel but also a unique masterpiece of engineering. Renzo Simoni, CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd., the company tasked with construction, provides an insight on the colossal tunnel structure work and the different stages of the project…

Swiss rail operator SOB opens tender for Voralpen Express rolling stock

Rail industry news / 14 September 2015 /

Südostbahn AG (SOB), the Swiss rail operator has announced the opening of tender to procure new rolling stock for the Voralpen Express and SOB regional rail services.

Bringing Europe closer together with the Gotthard Base Tunnel

Issue 4 2015 / 6 August 2015 /

In June 2016, the 57km-long Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Alps, which links northern and southern Switzerland, will be formally opened. The tunnel breaks a number of records. It is the longest rail tunnel in the world – 3km longer than the Japanese Seikan tunnel, the previous record holder. Peter Füglistaler – Director of the Federal Office of Transport in Switzerland – explains the importance of this route for commercial freight and passenger trains once scheduled operations through the tunnel begin in December 2016…

Ceneri Base Tunnel: the logical continuation in the south

Issue 4 2015 / 6 August 2015 /

The NRLA Gotthard Axis comprises of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and the 15km-long Ceneri Base Tunnel. The two single-track tubes of the Ceneri Base Tunnel are complemented by branch-off structures to allow additional traffic connections. So that the ambitious time schedule can be met despite difficult geological conditions, work on lining the tunnel is proceeding in parallel with driving. Marco Ceriani, Chief Construction Officer of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd, gives further construction status details…

From split-flap display to multimedia train information system

Issue 4 2015 / 6 August 2015 /

Who isn’t familiar with the big blue display information boards in Switzerland’s main train stations? At the time of the display installation more than 25 years ago, these units were the leading technology. Printed panels showed the train information for departing trains. Updating of the information caused the panels to rotate and fall into the desired position. This action caused its well-known sound, which will definitely be missed from the train station halls as technology is updated; the displays were starting to age and the service and warranty was running out, so SBB needed to search out new solutions. Project Manager at SBB, Lukas Spengeler, takes us through the project details and why modern LED displays have now been chosen…

SBB Bözberg railway tunnel contract delivers boost to transalpine rail freight

Rail industry news / 17 July 2015 /

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has awarded Implenia a SFr 145 million contract to replace the existing Bözberg railway tunnel with a new 4 metre twin-track tunnel further increasing the shift from road to rail freight.

SwissRapide Express® – Switzerland’s next generation of passenger transport

Issue 4 2014 / 5 August 2014 /

Today, intercity travellers in Switzerland are faced with crowded trains on a daily basis, regular delays causing missed connections as well as traffic jams on the country’s main motorways – valuable time which is lost when commuting, particularly between the cities of Berne and Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva, as well as between Zurich and Winterthur. The principal reason for these problems with mobility in Switzerland is that there is a lack of sufficient capacity on the railway and motorway infrastructure between these cities – the most frequented in the country. Without innovative solutions, improvements can only be had through massive government investments in new transport infrastructure. For European Railway Review, Niklaus König – President and CEO of SwissRapide AG reveals details of a new transportation idea for Switzerland – the SwissRapide Express®…

CEVA: Connecting Switzerland and France

Issue 4 2014 / 5 August 2014 /

CEVA is the acronym for the 16km-long Cornavin–Eaux-Vives–Annemasse rail link project connecting Switzerland and France. It is a project stepped in history which dates back as long ago as 1850. Following many false starts, political disagreements, citizen complaints and objections which went all the way to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, the project finally given the go-ahead and construction of the link got underway with a ground-breaking ceremony in November 2011. The project plays a crucial mobility role for the almost one million people living in the Greater Geneva agglomeration; it is seen as a much-needed link to improve mobility in Geneva and provide a cross-border connection to France. Antoine Da Trindade – Managing Director for CEVA – provides more details about this project which is estimated to cost approximately CHF 1.5 billion (for the Swiss sections) and is expected to be finished by 2019…

Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels on target

Issue 4 2013 / 1 August 2013 /

Work on the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels is on course. In the Gotthard Base Tunnel between Erstfeld and Sedrun, the ballastless railway track has been laid in both tubes. In total, 45% of the railway infrastructure systems have been installed. A pilot operation between Faido and the south portal at Bodio will start on schedule in December 2013 – a further important milestone on the way to the world’s longest railway tunnel becoming operational in 2016. Also, more than 60% of the Ceneri Base Tunnel has now been excavated. AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd is confident that the Ceneri Base Tunnel will be ready for operation with scheduled train services in 2019.
Gotthard Base Tunnel: status
Overground section Altdorf–Rynächt

The environment between Altdorf and Erstfeld has changed during the last year. Work on the built structures along the overground section is complete. In August 2012, the Riedstrasse underpass was completed, and in September 2012 the Wysshus underpass and both roundabouts were completed.

Tailored timetabling at SBB

Issue 4 2013 / 1 August 2013 /

The Swiss are world champions of rail travel. Every day, approximately 10,000 trains travel on Switzerland’s standard-gauge network which covers just over 3,665km. They take almost a million people to their destinations – safely and punctually – and transport 200,000 tonnes of freight. These impressive figures are unequalled anywhere else in the world. To cope with the constant rising demand on this heavily used network, SBB Infrastructure applies an ingenious timetable planning process.

At the core of the process is the ‘planning pentagon’ (see Figure 1). The demand forecast determines the product offering, which in turn forms the basis for the timetable. The latter defines the functional requirements to be met by infrastructure and stations as well as by the rolling stock. And finally, the financial arrangements determine the implementation timeframe.

In other words, construction only goes ahead insofar as it is needed to implement the new, to-the-minute timetable. The network is tailored to the timetable so that usage becomes more and more efficient.

Construction projects on track – in cities, through the Alps and across borders

Issue 4 2012 / 1 August 2012 /

Throughout 2012, SBB Infrastructure is undertaking a number of construction projects across Switzerland: in the two largest Swiss cities, Zurich and Geneva, in the St. Gallen and Schaffhausen conurbations, in the canton of Ticino, in the Alps, and even beyond Switzerland’s borders. This article presents an overview of the major ongoing construction projects, describing the progress achieved so far and what work still lies ahead.

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) network is the world’s busiest rail network, carrying approxi – mately 9,800 trains every day to all parts of Switzerland and, not surprisingly, the network is edging ever closer to its capacity limits. Zurich’s main station – serving almost 400,000 passengers a day, and thus by far the busiest station in Switzerland – is already a major bottleneck, while capacity expansion in other parts of Switzerland is also urgently needed. SBB Infrastructure is responsible for operating, maintaining, expanding and renewing SBB’s rail network. With the exception of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, SBB Infrastructure is in charge of all major railway upgrades in Switzerland. Projects demanding a wide range of construction techniques are underway all across Switzerland, and some even extend into neighbouring countries. The largest, most important and most spectacular of SBB Infrastructure’s current expansion projects1 include the following: