On 1 June 2021, a project to build an underground freight tunnel network stretching from Geneva to St Gallen, gained almost unanimous support in the Council of States, Switzerland upper house.
The project, which was launched in 2013 by private investors, won favour with 39 members of the Council of States with 1 abstention. In order to proceed, the privately funded project requires regulatory legislation and this vote moves the project a step closer to this objective.
The project, which was launched in 2013, involves building a three lane tunnel network spanning the country. Automated, driverless electric transport vehicles travelling at 30km an hour will operate 24 hours a day in the tunnel network. In addition to these vehicles, a rapid overhead roof track will deliver smaller packages.
The first 70 km section of the tunnel network, which will connect a hub in Härkingen-Niederbipp with Zurich, is scheduled for completion in 2031. The rest of the network, a further 430 km of tunnels, is scheduled for completion by 2045.
The building of the first section, including tunnels, software, hubs and underground and overground vehicles has an estimated cost of CHF 3 billion. The remainder of the project is expected to cost between CHF 27 and 32 billion.
Key private shareholders include Migros, Coop, Swisscom, Swiss Post, Manor, Helvetia, Zürcher Kantonalbank, Zurich Airport, la Mobilière, Implenia, Panalpina and Holcim. The government is not expected to contribute to the project but will require the company to maintain majority Swiss ownership.
The project aims to reduce road traffic, cut traffic emissions, reduce noise and improve Switzerland’s economic performance.