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DRIVING

Driving: How serious is the Swiss government’s nationwide 60km/h plan?

This week, news has emerged of a proposal to restrict traffic on Switzerland’s motorways to 60km/h. How feasible - and likely - is it?

What would a nationwide reduction of the speed limit do for Switzerland? Photo by Andrew Teoh on Unsplash
What would a nationwide reduction of the speed limit do for Switzerland? Photo by Andrew Teoh on Unsplash

Although there are different levels set all over the country, the speed limit on Switzerland’s roads is usually set at 120km/h. 

But a proposal to reduce traffic congestion seeks to halve that limit to 60km/h.

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is the proposal and why is it being floated?

In order to reduce traffic jams, the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) is examining the feasibility of lowering the speed limit on the country’s motorways from the current 120 km / h to 60 km /h for a better flow of traffic.

While specifics of the plan haven’t been released, it appears that not all of the country’s roads would have their speed limit cut. 

Instead, the limit would be halved in areas where there is a risk of traffic congestion, Swiss media reports. 

Traffic is the main reason the proposal has been put forward, although there are other motivating factors. 

Road congestion can also be expensive, both in terms of money and environmental damage, according to the Federal Office for Spatial Development, which estimates total loss each year at over 2 billion francs.

Would the plan be effective – and how likely is it? 

Anyone who lives in Switzerland knows that change happens slowly – especially something of this magnitude. 

FEDRO spokesperson Benno Schmid said the idea will be tested, most likely in 2023. 

“We are checking whether the speed harmonisation systems can keep traffic flowing longer with a speed limit of 60.”

Have your say: Should Switzerland change motorway speed limits?

Schmid pointed to the example of the A14 junction between Rütihof and Rotsee in the canton of Lucerne, where reducing the speed limit may lead to a 60 percent reduction in traffic jams and a 25 percent reduction in slow-moving traffic. 

However, not everyone is convinced. 

The Swiss Road Transport Association argues that if implemented, this measure would create more problems than it solves.

In particular, the SRTA argues that drivers would avoid motorways altogether and use alternate routes instead, including cantonal roads where the speed limit is 80 km/h. 

While this may improve traffic on motorways, it will have the opposite effect on cantonal roads, many of which are not equipped for large volumes of traffic. 

What other options are being considered?

The idea is just one of several proposals being considered by the Federal Roads Office to curb traffic. 

Another is a ban on driving on the left for trucks at peak hour, while simultaneously shortening or cutting the ban currently imposed on trucks driving at night. 

The closure of certain motorway exits and lanes is also being considered. 

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For members

MONEY

Reader question: Is Barclays closing bank accounts of Swiss-based Brits?

UK nationals living across Europe have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Will the same apply in Switzerland?

Reader question: Is Barclays closing bank accounts of Swiss-based Brits?

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Europe have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. There appears not to be an option to register for a different account.

Numerous readers of The Local have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency.

However, the widespread closures look set to avoid Swiss-based Brits at this stage, as Switzerland is not a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). 

The changes have been targeted at Brits living in EEA countries. This includes all European Union countries and every EFTA country other than Switzerland. 

A spokesperson for Barclays told The Local on Friday, July 29th, that the bank was “currently only writing to customers within the EEA”. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Barclay’s doing?

The closures have been announced for Brits based in the EEA in recent weeks. 

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local:As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.”

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Many UK nationals who live abroad maintain at least one UK bank account, sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

 
What is the situation in Switzerland?

As it stands, Brits based in Switzerland with Barclays accounts will be OK for the meantime, as the closures only impact those in EEA countries. 

However, a Barclays spokesperson told The Local that their accounts were designed for people living in the UK. 

“As a UK ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK and we continue to review the services we offer to retail customers outside of the UK.”

“If Barclays UK makes a decision to close accounts in any further countries, we will contact customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”

Stay tuned to The Local for more updates on banking and living in Switzerland. 
 
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