• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Neuchâtel's billion-franc rail plan draws flak

Malcolm Curtis · 28 Aug 2012, 08:23

Published: 28 Aug 2012 08:23 GMT+02:00

The TransRun project would provide a new, faster rail link between Neuchâtel and watch-making centre La Chaux-de-Fonds.

At a budgeted 830 million francs, the line largely running through tunnels would cut time for the train trip by half to 14 minutes from the current route.

Together with other regional improvements costing 89 million francs, TransRun is designed to improve rail travel to other cities, such as Biel, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne.

Philippe Gnaegi, head of the cantonal government and a member of the right-of-centre Liberal-Radical party, called the proposal “a good project, validated by experts” at a press conference on Monday.

A referendum on the project is set for September 23rd.

The government and an overwhelming majority of MPs in the canton’s parliament back TransRun as indispensable for the future of Neuchâtel’s economy.
 
But opponents, including members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, have mounted a vociferous campaign against the project.

They argue that it is unaffordable and will leave the canton heavily in debt.

Supporters say the costs are manageable, with the federal government and Swiss Federal Railways, the state-owned rail company, picking up 349 million francs of the tab.

The remainder would be divided between the canton (60 percent) and participating municipalities (40 percent).

To allay financial concerns, the cantonal government has promised to run balanced budgets during the 25-year period it would take to repay financing for the project.

If approved, the new network would be completed by 2022.

The cantonal government says the project is crucial in making Neuchâtel a more attractive place to live and invest in by improving mobility and bringing the canton’s most important cities closer together.

La Chaux-de-Fonds, awarded world heritage status by Unesco along with Le Locle in 2009, is famous for its planned residential and manufacturing buildings, designed in the 19th century after a fire to meet the needs of watch-making firms.

Its physical separation from Neuchâtel is enhanced by a marked difference in elevation.

Located in the Jura mountains at an altitude of 1,000 metres, La Chaud-de-Fonds (population 38,000) is 570 metres above Neuchâtel, a city of 34,000 overlooking Lake Neuchâtel.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
No blanket IOC doping ban for Russian athletes
The IOC ruled that 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistleblower on doping in Russian athletics, could not go to Rio even as a neutral. Photo: AFP

At a meeting in Lausanne on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday ordered individual sports federations to decide whether Russian competitors should take part in the Rio Games after failing to agree on a complete ban over Russia's state-run doping.

Van Gogh, Monet paintings seized in Malaysia graft probe
The works were seized following a request from the United States, one of several countries probing alleged massive fraud at the Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Photo: AFP

Switzerland has seized a painting by Vincent Van Gogh and two others by Claude Monet as part of the global investigation into Malaysia's scandal-tainted sovereign wealth fund, an official said on Friday.

IOC reports more doping failures pre-Rio
President Thomas Bach said the retesting showed the IOC's commitment to fight doping. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee reports 45 new doping failures from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Swiss pilots: don’t hunt Pokémon from the air
Pokemon hunting has become a world-wide craze. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The Swiss civil aviation office hears reports of people playing the popular new game from helicopters.

‘Nelson’ the black swan found dead in Montreux
File photo: Noel Reynolds

The non-native swan caused a media storm earlier this month.

Zurich school threatened over links to Erdogan opponent
File photo: Aris Messini/AFP

School targeted over claims it is associated with Fethullah Gulen.

Violent storms hit Switzerland as planet heats up (again)
File photo: Benjamin Benson

Globally, June 2016 was the hottest month on record.

Swiss sports court upholds ban on Russian athletes
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva (centre) is among the athletes affected. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/Wang Zhao/Greg Baker/AFP

The decision by Lausanne's Court of Arbitration for Sport is a "funeral for athletics" said one Russian athlete.

Swiss Post moves to accept debit cards – sometimes
Photo: Swiss Post

By December customers will be able to pay for products (but not their bills) by debit card.

Study: a fifth of Swiss spy on neighbours
22 percent admit to watching their neighbours. File photo: Chase Elliott Clark

And 40 percent of Swiss feel watched in their homes.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Grand Tours Project
Features
Why you should get on your bike in Switzerland
Photo: The Local
Society
Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees
Photo: Rolf Krahl/Christophe G
International
Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness’
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: The Local
International
Chaos in Como after Swiss send back refugees
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP/The Local
Lifestyle
Nine top celebrity hotspots in Switzerland
Photo: Graubunden police
National
World-class Swiss climber Norbert Joos dies on ‘home mountain’
Photo: Kathleen Waters
Society
Italian ‘ignored’ by Swiss schools in language wars
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: Whitepod
Features
The quirkiest places to stay in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Migrant busted trying to sneak into Switzerland in a suitcase
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read
National
Basel suffers wettest six months for 150 years
Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
Technology
Why Swiss science could suffer badly from Brexit fallout
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Robert Valencia
International
Swiss couple in Nicaragua told to give back adopted daughter
Photo: Zurich cantonal police
National
Police hunt prisoner on the run in Zurich murder case
Photo: Christoph G
Politics
Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Bernacqua
Lifestyle
Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Basel Justice and Security Dept
Lifestyle
New signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Daniel Orth
Education
Muslim school kids denied passport for refusing swimming lessons
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Politics
Swiss-EU talks ‘must’ resume this summer, says President
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva could get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
4,580
jobs available