SWITZERLAND: The federal government has approved the proposed 13·4 km Limmattalbahn light rail line which would link the Zürich suburbs of Altstetten, Dietikon and Killwangen-Spreitenbach.

The project is backed by the cantons of Zürich and Aargau, which would pay 75% and 25% of the estimated SFr670m cost; a third of this would come from federal funding allocated to the cantons. The cantons' jointly-owned project development company Limmattalbahn AG expects to obtain all planning consents within two years, with a view to construction starting in 2017 for completion at the end of 2019.

The Limmattalbahn would have 27 stops and is intended to provide an attractive local public transport option to support increasing residential and commercial development along the corridor, which is currently served by local buses and S-Bahn trains with limited stops.

Around 92% of the route would be on reserved track, which would permit speeds up to 60 km/h and provide a reliable journey time of around 37 min, although it is envisaged that passengers travelling from end-to-end would continue to use faster S-Bahn services.

The metre-gauge line would be electrified at 600 V DC between Altstetten and Schlieren for compatibility with the network of Zürich tram operator VBZ, and at 1·2 kV DC from Schlieren to Killwangen for compatibility with the local railway operated by BDWM Transport. A fleet of 2 300 mm wide trams with a capacity of 200 to 260 passengers is envisaged.

The future operator has not yet been chosen. BDWM Transport and VBZ have been invited to submit proposals, and Limmattalbahn AG will also consider 'high quality' proposals from third parties.