MEETING in Basel in March 20, the chief executives of national railways in France, Germany and Switzerland resolved to launch a programme to raise the capacity of rail routes in and around the city. Because of rising transit freight traffic, the forthcoming completion of the two Swiss base tunnels, ambitious plans to develop urban services, and plans to link Switzerland to the European high speed passenger network, demand for paths in the Basel area is expected to outstrip capacity in the medium term.

First fruit of the meeting attended by Hartmut Mehdorn of DB, Louis Gallois of SNCF, Jean-Pierre Duport of RFF and Benedikt Weibel of SBB is the establishment of a trinational steering committee to plan and co-ordinate capacity improvement projects up to 2030. Representatives from the three transport ministries, the national railways and regional authorities will examine ways to raise capacity on the SNCF route into Basel, on the line from Basel Bad to Muttenz and Stein Säckingen, and on the SBB line between Liestal and Olten, where a new tunnel may needed.