Will Switzerland fund the upgrade of the railway on the Rhine’s left bank?

Image: Shutterstock. Aurelien KEMPF - PIKSL

The Swiss Federal Council proposed three measures to boost the modal shift from road to rail across the Alps. The main measure is the financing for the adaptation to the 4-metre profile of the railway between Basel, Strasbourg and Metz to create a viable alternative route on the left bank of the Rhine River. However, some Swiss politicians say investments should be kept within the Swiss borders rather than used to finance projects in neighbouring countries.

The two other proposals made by the Swiss Council entail the construction of sidings where freight trains can be parked in case of disruptions and more funds for medium-distance rail freight services. The first one would aim at reducing the number of cancelled freight trains, which amounts to 10 to 15 per cent of the total every year. The second one would favour the shift from road to rail in Switzerland even further, making freight trains more attractive not only for long-distance services.

Left bank of the Rhine

The main line running on the right bank of the Rhine River, going from Switzerland to Germany, is often congested due to various bottlenecks that will not be fixed soon. For example, the completion of the Rhine Valley Railway between Basel and Karlsruhe will not be commissioned before 2040 or 2045. Having a valid alternative on the left bank of the river, thus, would be a manna from the sky for the rail freight sector.

Switzerland has been quite active in trying to cooperate with France to find a solution. However, France does not seem to consider this project as a priority as no concrete decisions have yet been made. Now the Swiss Council seems to be willing to take matters into their own hands and fund the upgrade of the Metz-Strasbourg-Basel railway. It is now up to the Council of States, the other branch of the Parliament with the National Council, to decide on the situation.

‘The goal of 650.000 trucks per year is utopic’

The main purpose of all these Swiss investments in rail freight is to reduce the number of trucks on the country’s roads to 650,000 every year. However, according to some right-wing parties such as the Ticino League, this goal is utopic. In 2023, for example, there were 916,000 lorries crossing Swiss roads. This number is 1.4 per cent lower than in 2022, meaning that the number of trucks is decreasing. However, lowering the number to 650,000 might be a quasi-impossible task. Politicians in Switzerland are thus asking to increase this limit to a more realistic one.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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Will Switzerland fund the upgrade of the railway on the Rhine’s left bank? | RailFreight.com

Will Switzerland fund the upgrade of the railway on the Rhine’s left bank?

Image: Shutterstock. Aurelien KEMPF - PIKSL

The Swiss Federal Council proposed three measures to boost the modal shift from road to rail across the Alps. The main measure is the financing for the adaptation to the 4-metre profile of the railway between Basel, Strasbourg and Metz to create a viable alternative route on the left bank of the Rhine River. However, some Swiss politicians say investments should be kept within the Swiss borders rather than used to finance projects in neighbouring countries.

The two other proposals made by the Swiss Council entail the construction of sidings where freight trains can be parked in case of disruptions and more funds for medium-distance rail freight services. The first one would aim at reducing the number of cancelled freight trains, which amounts to 10 to 15 per cent of the total every year. The second one would favour the shift from road to rail in Switzerland even further, making freight trains more attractive not only for long-distance services.

Left bank of the Rhine

The main line running on the right bank of the Rhine River, going from Switzerland to Germany, is often congested due to various bottlenecks that will not be fixed soon. For example, the completion of the Rhine Valley Railway between Basel and Karlsruhe will not be commissioned before 2040 or 2045. Having a valid alternative on the left bank of the river, thus, would be a manna from the sky for the rail freight sector.

Switzerland has been quite active in trying to cooperate with France to find a solution. However, France does not seem to consider this project as a priority as no concrete decisions have yet been made. Now the Swiss Council seems to be willing to take matters into their own hands and fund the upgrade of the Metz-Strasbourg-Basel railway. It is now up to the Council of States, the other branch of the Parliament with the National Council, to decide on the situation.

‘The goal of 650.000 trucks per year is utopic’

The main purpose of all these Swiss investments in rail freight is to reduce the number of trucks on the country’s roads to 650,000 every year. However, according to some right-wing parties such as the Ticino League, this goal is utopic. In 2023, for example, there were 916,000 lorries crossing Swiss roads. This number is 1.4 per cent lower than in 2022, meaning that the number of trucks is decreasing. However, lowering the number to 650,000 might be a quasi-impossible task. Politicians in Switzerland are thus asking to increase this limit to a more realistic one.

Also read:

You just read one of our premium articles free of charge

Want full access? Take advantage of our exclusive offer

See the offer

Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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