WITH THE summer timetable change on June 15, Swiss Federal Railways began revenue operations on the second biggest project to be completed as part of the Bahn 2000 programme. A week earlier Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, SBB President Thierry Lalive d’Epinay and CEO Benedikt Weibel participated in celebrations on June 6 to mark the opening of the 10·7 km double-track line between Zürich and Thalwil, built at a cost of SFr880m.

Running for much of its length in a 9·4 km tunnel, the new line doubles capacity on the main rail corridor leading east and south from the city. Designed for future operation at 200 km/h, the line is currently cleared for inter-city passenger services to run at 160 km/h. Transferring long-distance passenger and freight trains onto the new line has freed up capacity on the existing tracks along the shore of the Zürichsee. A new S-Bahn route S14 from Zürich HB to Horgen Oberdorf will augment the existing S8 trains to provide a 15min interval service at intermediate stations between Zürich and Thalwil.

Construction of the tunnel began in July 1997. The double-track bore is laid with slab track carried on an insulating layer to minimise the transmission of vibrations to nearby housing. A partially-completed burrowing junction at the Thalwil end is intended to feed into the future Zimmerberg base tunnel leading to Zug on the Gotthard corridor, which is scheduled for completion by 2014.