SWITZERLAND’S Ministry of Transport is drawing up legislation that will authorise expenditure of up to SFr1·3bn on a series of projects to improve access to and from high speed networks in neighbouring countries. Unusually, this will see Swiss funds used as contributions towards major schemes in other countries.

Because of a national budget shortfall in Switzerland, the cost is to be spread over a longer period than originally planned, with work carried out in two stages. Indeed, the second phase has been postponed indefinitely following a review of major rail projects announced by the Ministry on March 19. This will see all projects already in hand completed as planned, but others will be postponed or curtailed because of the funding shortfall.

Formal consultation on the high speed line access proposals was carried out between September and December last year, and the Federal Council decided in January that it would increase the amount available in the first phase from the SFr590m first envisaged to SFr740m. This will see SFr285m spent on projects to benefit eastern Switzerland and SFr275m allocated to schemes that will improve access to western Switzerland. Access from the north justifies SFr125m, while SFr55m has been set aside for project management and contingencies.

Two routes into Germany qualify for the first phase funding. One is the corridor linking Zürich with München, and upgrading is planned between St Gallen and St Margarethen in Austria. At the moment trains are diesel-hauled within Germany, and the funds will allow electrification to be carried out over the 178 km between Lindau and Geltendorf, about 40 km west of München. The Swiss announcement of funding for this work was warmly welcomed in Bayern by Transport Minister Dr Otto Wiesheu.

The second route into Germany is that used by tilting trains between Zürich and Stuttgart, and this will see funds spent on upgrading the line within Switzerland between Bülach and Schaffhausen, bringing benefits for local passengers as well.

Passengers bound to and from Basel stand to benefit from the TGV Rhin-Rh