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Alpine rail tunnel and suburban train services to get boost

The first tube of the Lötschberg base railway tunnel was built between 1999 and 2007. Keystone/ Martin Ruetschi

The government has presented plans for an upgrade of the country’s railway network, including an additional Alpine tunnel in western Switzerland.

About CHF720 million ($745 million) have been set aside to upgrade the Lötschberg base tunnel and other regional projects near Zürich and Geneva in the next decade.

The Lötschberg tunnel, linking the Bernese Oberland and the Valais regions, is part of a major north-south transalpine rail line to Italy. The base tunnel was opened in 2007, but only one tube was completed.

The 35km-tunnel was built primarily to ease heavyweight road transport on Swiss roads, but completion of the second tube was put off for financial reasons.

“The upgrade will allow to increase capacities and ensure the stability of the services,” Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference on Wednesday.

The main north-south railway thoroughfare – including the 57km-Gotthard base tunnel and the 15km-Ceneri tunnel – was inaugurated in 2020.

The government also approvedExternal link a long-term strategy for the railway network, notably in suburban regions and boosting regional links.

The focus is no longer on upgrading the main rail links between the cities Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Zurich and Basel, according to Sommaruga.


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