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Why Switzerland is building a new Geneva to Lausanne train line

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why Switzerland is building a new Geneva to Lausanne train line
Works along railroad tracks disrupt traffic. Photo: SBB media

Swiss MPs have green-lighted the construction of a 9-kilometre-long railway tunnel between two Vaud municipalities, extending the track between Geneva and Lausanne.


Swiss MPs have green-lighted the construction of a railway tunnel between two Vaud municipalities.

After the acceptance of the move by the Council of States in December, the National Council has also given its approval this week to an ambitious 1.3-billion-franc project to build a train tunnel along the 9-km section along Lake Geneva.

The tunnel, which will connect the communities of Morges and Perroy in canton Vaud, will be part of a larger project aiming to extend the track between Lausanne and Geneva.

Why is this tunnel in western Switzerland important for the entire country?

The Swiss rail network, especially the InterCity (IC) trains that criss-cross the breadth and width of the entire country, is tightly interconnected.

Therefore, if there is a disruption on any segment of the network, it will have a domino effect on other parts of the country, causing delays along the way.

And if there is one thing the Swiss absolutely loathe, it is delays — whether of their own trains or those arriving from Germany.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland beats Germany for reliable trains

It so happens that the 66-kilometre-long track connecting Lausanne to Geneva has had some major problems in recent years, including a hole in the ground that had formed between the tracks, paralysing traffic on the line. 

This, and other traffic-disrupting incidents, have prompted legislators to try to find a mutually acceptable solution — especially since the Lausanne to Geneva line “is used by 70,000 people per day, and when it experiences problems, all of Switzerland is affected,” according to MP Johanna Gapany.

And, as another deputy, Charles Juillard, explained, when it comes to railroad improvement projects, "French-speaking Switzerland is significantly behind schedule, and construction sites are not progressing at the pace they should.” 


Track versus tunnel

Even though a third track between the two cities would have been cheaper to create, MPs decided a tunnel would be a better option.

Besides the risk of the local population opposing the lengthy above-the-ground construction process, the tunnel will create a better ‘avoidance route’ in the event of disruptions on the main line between Lausanne and Geneva, according to MP Hans Wicki.

“It will also increase capacity [on the line] and give more flexibility to operations,” he added.

Now that it has been approved, the new project could see the light (at the end of the tunnel) between 2035 and 2040.

READ ALSO: Five things you didn't know about Switzerland's rail network


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